The police detained 33 of some 200 squatters who occupied an empty government building in central Prague on Thursday night. The squatters moved in at around 8 PM on Thursday, and said they were planning to convert the building into a community centre. However, the police cleared the premises at 3 AM on Friday, after most of the occupiers voluntarily left. 33 people were taken to a police station to ascertain their identities, and were later released. This was the second such incident in Prague; in August, squatters occupied a privately-owned building in the Prague Castle area, and were removed by the police just hours later.
Vodafone Czech Republic has lodged a complaint to the European Commission over an auction of mobile frequencies, a spokeswoman for the company said. In July, the Czech telecommunications regulator launched a rerun auction of frequencies that will allow operators to provide new 4G services; Vodafone complains that the rules of the new auction favour new competitors. The mobile phone operator also filed a lawsuit with a Czech court, and a petition to the country’s anti-monopoly agency over the auction.
Most Czech university rectors will boycott the celebrations of Czechoslovak Independence Day held at Prague Castle on October 28, the Czech Rectors Conference said. 21 out of 26 rectors of Czech public universities will not attend the event in solidarity with two of their colleagues – Masaryk University’s Mikuláš Bek and South Bohemian University’s Libor Grubhoffer – who were not invited to attend over past arguments with President Miloš Zeman who formally hosts the event. Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček has announced he would not be present either, along with mayors of a number of other cities and towns. A spokeswoman for the president said it was a personal decision of each invitee whether they will attend or not.
A court in Opava on Friday conditionally released a woman sentenced to prison for the abuse of her two sons in the 2007 Kuřim case. She has served six years out of her nine-year term. The boys’ mother was sentenced along with five other people including Barbora Škrlová, a 33-year-old woman at the time who posed a 13-year-old girl. The group severely abused the boys, presumably to force them into obedience; the true motivation of the abusers has never been established.
The rector of Masaryk University in Brno, Mikulas Bek, has said he feels slighted by the fact that he is not on the guest list of a celebration at Prague Castle on Czechoslovak Independence Day. The rector of the country’s second largest university has expressed the view that he failed to get invited because he did not enable the president to lecture at Masaryk University so as to maintain political neutrality on academic ground during the election campaign. Prague Castle has not commented on the development. On the occasion of the country’s public holiday the president traditionally bestows state decorations to distinguished personalities, a ceremony attended by politicians, cultural figures, academics and church dignitaries.
The Prague Supreme Court has raised the sentences for a brutal machete attack on people in a bar in Novy Bor following an appeal by the perpetrators. The court handed Vojtech Husak a 17.5 year sentence in place of the 16 year sentence he appealed, and sent Antonin Sinu to 15 years in jail for attempted murder instead of the 3 years he received from a lower court in Liberec. Jakub Ziga’s 15 year sentence was upheld. The incident happened in August of 2011 after two young Romanies felt they had been slighted by some of the guests in the bar. They left and soon after five other Romanies appeared armed with machetes and knives and started attacking people in the bar at random. One man, who was attacked with a machete, nearly died of his injuries.
Czechs abroad have started voting in the country’s early general elections. Polling stations in the US open at 2pm local time on Thursday and voters who have registered to vote in the elections will be able to do so until 9 pm on Saturday. Close to 8,000 Czechs around the world have registered to vote in the elections, some travelling hundreds of kilometers to the nearest polling station. There are 104 polling stations outside the Czech Republic, mostly at Czech embassies and consulates. Czechs abroad will be selecting candidates from the central Bohemian ballot. In the Czech Republic polling stations will open at 2pm of Friday and voting will end twenty-four hours later.
The Prague gas company Pražská plynárenská is testing its network for potential leaks by intensifying the gas odor additives between now and next Wednesday. People can report leaks at the emergency line 1239. The last such test was undertaken in May of this year following a gas explosion in a building in the centre of Prague.
The police are prosecuting 32 people with the smuggling and sale of illegal drugs in Vinařice prison near Kladno outside of Prague. Drugs sold illegally to inmates were for the most part heroin, crystal methamphetamine and marijuana. Drugs were allegedly smuggled in by visiting relatives, through the mail, in packages thrown over the perimeter fence or even by inmates themselves returning to the prison from work. The suspects in the case, if found guilty, could face up to five years in prison, the police revealed on Thursday.
The government’s former human rights commissioner Monika Šimůnková has accused the Rusnok cabinet of downplaying the security threat presented by Russian Cossacks in the Czech Republic as a concession to Moscow. Mrs. Šimůnková, who was dismissed as head of the government’s human rights section and later resigned as human rights commissioner said the real reason for her removal from office was a clash over an annual report on the state of minorities in the Czech Republic. She said the report she handed the government contained a warning regarding the risk presented by the cultural association of Russian Cossacks who were actively disseminating Russian propaganda. The prime minister allegedly ordered the passage to be scrapped in order not to antagonize Russia. The former human right’s commissioner has also accused the government of trying to marginalize the human rights agenda and bring it under the interior ministry.
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