Prague’s Municipal Court on Friday sentenced two 19-year-old Icelandic nationals to 7.5 years prison for smuggling cocaine. The young women were caught at Prague’s Václav Havel airport on November 7th last year smuggling 3.5 kilograms between them. The decision is not final: the defendants can still appeal. The prosecution had called for sentences of up to 18 years in prison, as the duo allegedly acted as couriers for an organised crime gang.
Former president Václav Klaus has written that he considers negative screening results a matter of course for ministers in government, stressing that all candidates he named as head-of-state fulfilled the necessary requirements. Screening legislation was introduced in the 1990s to prevent persons who worked as agents for the former Communist secret police from holding high office. The law is also supported by the current president, Miloš Zeman. Andrej Babiš, the head of ANO 2011, could face difficulty in joining the new government given he was listed in Slovakia as having ties to the StB – a matter the billionaire businessman has challenged in court. Mr Babiš has denied he ever collaborated with the StB.
Bohuslav Svoboda, the leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats in Prague, has said he intends to run for a top post in his party’s national leadership. Mr Svoboda declined to specify whether he would aim for the post of deputy leader. Ahead of an upcoming vote, he backed candidate Filip Humplík to succeed him in the Prague branch, and he also backed Miroslava Němcová for the post of party chairwoman should she decide to run. She and Mr Svoboda, as well as others in the party such as former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil could play significant roles in a new Civic Democratic Party leadership, after a corruption and spying scandal brought down the party’s former chairman Petr Nečas.
The Czech national football team faces Canada in a friendly on Friday afternoon – ten years to the day the two squads last met. The match is the Czech team’s last of the season. The last time the Czech Republic and Canada met, the Czechs won 5:1. The match is expected to be the last for interim manager Josef Pešice who took over from Michal Bílek after the Czechs failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Under Pešice, the squad won the final two qualification matches against Malta and Bulgaria.
A Czech court has ordered the national forestry company Lesy ČR to stop logging trees in state-owned forests near Tábor – property slated to be returned to church organisations under the Church restitution bill. The company was operating in the area to clear damage from storms, a representative made clear. The bishopric in České Budějovice had petitioned the court to freeze all activity until restitution had been fully resolved. Two of the three parties negotiating on a new government have taken issue with Church restitution, or parts of the bill, considering the current state of the Czech economy.
The Czech power giant ČEZ will be allowed to keep its license to operate in Bulgaria, after the country’s energy regulator confirmed there was no reason to revoke it. Earlier this year, Bulgarian authorities launched an investigation into whether ČEZ was unfairly increasing electricity prices to its customers in response to widespread public protests that triggered the fall of the centre-right government. ČEZ rejected claims of irregular practices and said that if its license was revoked it would take the matter to a European court of law.
The head of a team of doctors overseeing the health of the president,
Health Minister Martin Holcát, has informed the Czech News Agency that
president is making a quicker-than-expected recovery from a recent knee
injury. According to the minister, the president was getting used to
crutches in physical rehab – on stairs as well as during a short walk on
the grounds of Lány Chateau where he has been resting.
The president suffered his injury at the end of last month, leading him to scrap foreign visits for the rest of year. This week the president met with the head of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, and the head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, to discuss post-election developments.
This year’s Davis Cup final has begun, between defending champion the Czech Republic and Serbia. Veteran Czech tennis player Radek Štepánek, who sealed the deal in 2012 by defeating Spain’s Nicolas Amalgro, is on court against World No. 2 Novak Djokovic. The second singles match on Friday will see World No. 7 Tomáš Berdych take on Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic (replacing Janko Tipsarovic who is out with an injury). This year’s Davis Cup Final is the 101st.
A new poll released by ppm factum suggests that 57 percent of those who backed the Social Democrats in the recent election were critical of steps taken by the party since. The party suffered discord a mere day after the election when a wing informally headed by Michal Hašek called on the party’s chairman, Bohuslav Sobotka, to step down. Mr Sobotka later consolidated his position. If Czechs voted today, the new poll suggests, ANO 2011 would come first with 20 percent of the vote and the Social Democrats second, with 19.5. In the recent election, ANO got 18.7 and the Social Democrats narrowly won with 20.5 percent.
In related news, members of a Civic Democratic branch in Brno backed former education minister Petr Fiala for party leader. All 156 delegates of the Brno-střed branch voted in favour. Mr Fiala is the former rector of Masaryk University and served as an unaffiliated member in the centre-right government of Petr Nečas. Mr Fiala ran the party’s south Moravian branch ahead of the recent national election. The Civic Democrats posted their worst-ever result (getting just 7.72 percent of votes) but Fiala received strong backing in terms of preferential votes (his name on the ballot was circled by more than 11,000 voters).
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
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Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott