In a quarterly report on national security, the Czech intelligence service BIS has warned of an alarming rise in anti-Roma sentiments among the public. The report pointed to the fact that in the recent protests and clashes in the towns of Duchcov and České Budejovice a large number of regular citizens joined small groups of right-wing extremists. BIS experts believe that frustrations with everyday petty crime and violence in combination with latent anti-Roma sentiments may prove to be a serious threat for the security of the country in the future. Until now, smaller groups of extremists were behind the major anti-Roma clashes, and did not present a significant threat. The security report said that the ethnic tension needs to be resolved an effective, pragmatic and unemotional manner as soon as possible.
The advisory board of state-owned Czech Railways dismissed the general director of the company, Petr Žaluda, and the three other members of the executive board on Tuesday. Mr. Žaluda told the iDnes.cz news server that he was not allowed to attend the meeting of the advisory board, where the decision of his dismissal was made, and that he was given no indication of problems with his leadership. He has headed Czech Railways since 2008 and during that time the company undertook major modernization projects. Lucrative tenders for the modernization have been criticized in the past years for lack of transparency. The advisory board had renewed Mr. Žaluda’s latest term as general director only this January, unanimously. Transport Minister Zdeněk Žak has so far refused to comment.
A 36-year-old Czech tourist and her 8-year-old daughter have been found dead in their hotel room in Hurghada, Egypt, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday. One of the speculated causes of death is food poisoning, although this has not been confirmed by official sources. The husband of the woman and the father of the young girl is in hospital. In an interview with Czech Television on Tuesday afternoon, the man’s sister said he called their mother saying that he has found his wife and child already dead in the hotel room and later collapsed himself. The Czech consul in Egypt is in contact with police and the travel agency, with which the victims traveled to the country.
The police questioned the former defense minister Alexander Vondra on Tuesday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government. Former Prime Minister Petr Nečas’s chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová is accused of having ordered military intelligence to spy on the premier’s wife. The police believe that the then defense minister Vondra did not give the approval for such an investigation. The current defense minister Vlastimil Picek was questioned on Monday. The police said that they are planning to also question the acting chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Martin Kuba, on Tuesday.
Heavy storms overnight caused damage around the country: fire fighters and emergency crews worked overnight to remove fallen trees from roads and rail tracks, pumping water from cellars and evacuating children’s summer camps. In Liberec a man drowned in flood waters, another was seriously injured by a falling tree. Thousands of homes were left without electricity and rail traffic was disrupted around the country. Several roads and rail routes remained closed on Tuesday morning due to fallen trees. Some regions have already calculated preliminary damages to tens of millions of crowns. In Prague, the Chodov and Můstek metro stations had to be briefly closed down to prevent flash flooding.
The European Court of Human Rights has recognized inhumane and degrading treatment of a suspect in police custody in the Czech Republic. The ruling condemned the actions of police officers in the west Bohemian town of Aš, who arrested a fifty-eight year-old man in 2010 and painfully tied his legs and allowed him to hang by his bound arms from a fixture on the wall. The man’s lawyer all said that he was beaten on his back, head and chest. The man has asked for 100,000 crowns in compensation, but the European court has not ruled on that yet, pending a possible appeal as well as the results of deliberations in a Czech court on the same case.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint by the publishing company Mladá fronta against their competitors Mafra, which puts out one of the most popular Czech dailies Mladá fronta Dnes. A Prague Municipal Court rejected the complaint in 2009, and the Supreme Court turned down Mladá fronta’s appeal of the decision last February. The publisher wants Mafra to stop using their trademark name for the newspaper. The predecessor of Mladá fronta published a newspaper with the same name since 1945, but in 1989 it was purchased by a different publisher and the word Dnes was added to the title. Mafra, which now owns the newspaper, also publishes the daily Lidové noviny and other publications and was recently purchased by billionaire Andrej Babiš.
The leader of a German gang, which sold drugs and weapons over the internet around the country, was arrested in Brno. The German police have been investigating the 23-year-old and 50 other people for the past year. Suspecting the investigation, the man, who goes under the nickname Kronos, escaped to the Czech Republic, where the local police arrested him under a European warrant. Kronos’ group sold and distributed marijuana, amphetamines and the drug ecstasy in different parts of Germany. The police found false identification papers, anabolic steroids and guns in the Brno flat, where the man was arrested.
A health ministry regulation clarifying the rules of the sale and distribution of medical marihuana will come into effect on Thursday of this week. Distribution may begin already in September, according to the legislative affairs deputive of the heath minister, Martin Plíšek. The ministry is hoping that by that time the legal rules for the import and distribution of the drug will be in place. The regulation allows the prescription of a maximum of 30 grams of medical marihuana, and pharmacies will be able to decide whether they want to carry the medicine or not. For now, medical marijuana sold in the Czech Republic will be imported from the Netherlands, but there ia possibility that Czech companies will receive the license to grow it here.
Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek was questioned by the police on Monday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government. The case revolves around ex-prime Minister Petr Nečas’ chief of staff Jana Nagyová who secretly commissioned the country’s military intelligence to spy on the former PM’s wife. The head of military intelligence Milan Kovanda and his predecessor Jan Pohůnek have also been charged with abuse of office. Defense Minister Picek, who himself was in office at the time, said it was up to the court to decide on his subordinates’ guilt and his own measure of responsibility in the case.
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