A Prague court has refused to arbitrate the case against the art group Ztohoven whose members recently replaced the presidential flag over Prague Castle with a gigantic pair of red boxer shorts in protest at Mr. Zeman’s policies and behaviour. The judge sent the case back to the police for further investigation saying there was insufficient proof that the two young men who face charges were responsible for the damage to the roof of Prague Castle and that the overall damage assessment presented was inadequate. The state attorney may appeal the decision.
The Czech Rectors Conference has said its members will not attend the ceremony at Prague Castle marking Czechoslovakia Independence Day on October 28th. The academic boycott of the celebrations is a show of protest over the president’s decision not to invite two university rectors to Prague Castle over past disagreements. For the third year now the rectors of Brno’s Masaryk University and the South Bohemian University in České Budějovice have not been included on the guest list as a result of personal disputes with the head of state. The Rectors Conference says this is undignified and has accused Mr. Zeman of appropriating the public holiday.
President Miloš Zeman has come under fire for statements that he made on a visit to the Zlín region on Friday. In an informal debate with the employees of a local company, Mr. Zeman said that migrants of the Muslim faith had no desire to integrate and if they settled here they would not respect Czech laws but adhere to the sharia. He predicted that in due time Muslim women in Europe would be stoned and thieves would have their hands chopped off. Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier slammed the president’s words as “irresponsible scaremongering” and Deputy-Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek also took issue with the head of state, reminding him that the Czech Republic had a Muslim senator who abided by the country’s laws and respected European values.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday repeated his call for Olomouc regional governor Jiří Rozbořil, who faces charges of corruption, to resign from office. On arriving in Olomouc for a meeting of the regional Social Democratic Party branch, Mr. Sobotka said that under the circumstances Mr. Rozboril’s resignation was the only possible course of action. Jiri Rozboril, who is suspected of having solicited a bribe, has denied any wrongdoing and said on Thursday that before considering his resignation he wanted to present his case to the prime minister and regional party leadership.
In the first nine months of this year the Czech police detained 7,200 migrants, an increase of 3,700 as compared to the previous year. During the same period 1,115 foreign nationals filed for asylum in the Czech Republic, an increase of 300 as compared to 2014. The police also brought charges against 150 people smugglers.
The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks has urged the Czech authorities to improve conditions in the country’s detention facilities for migrants. The commissioner said he was greatly concerned about the conditions in which migrants were being held in the Czech Republic, citing a report by Czech Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová and asked for corrective action to be taken without delay. Following a visit to the Bělá-Jezová detention facility north of Prague, the Ombudswoman said she was shocked by the conditions in which children were kept citing barbed wire fences, lack of warm clothing and a prison regime.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has countered reports that the head of the Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS) Jiří Lang will be leaving office. The weekly Respekt wrote on Thursday that Mr. Lang was leaving the post after 11 years and that his resignation had already been discussed by the country’s National Security Council. No reason for his departure was given. At a press briefing in Prague on Friday the prime minister said he had not received any information of this kind and that Respekt must have published unreliable information.
The head of the criminal police, Milan Pospíšek, has asked to be released from office. His request came after he was investigated by detectives in connection with the Olomouc corruption scandal. The police presidium has complied with his request. Meanwhile the deputy head of the anti-corruption police in Olomouc Jiří Jach has asked to be transferred to a different post.
Police officers have detained a Vietnamese national after a routine road check uncovered that he was transporting ten kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in his car. The thirty-year old Vietnamese national has been charged with producing and selling illegal substances. The case is being investigated by officers from a special police unit code-named Krystal who are combatting a steep rise in the trafficking of this home-made drug in south-west Bohemia. The drug is sold at Vietnamese open air markets and is increasingly being smuggled into Germany. If a found guilty the suspect could face up to 12 years in jail.
The two high-ranking police officers who were charged with corruption on Thursday along with the governor of Olomouc and an influential local entrepreneur will be suspended from office, the Police Presidium said in a statement on Friday. The deputy head of the Olomouc regional police force Karel Kadlec the head of the region’s police department for economic crime Radek Petruj are believed to have been part of a powerful corruption ring in the region and are suspected of having covered up dubious tenders and financial irregularities. They have been charged with abuse of office and bribery.
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