The minister of justice, ANO appointment Robert Pelikán, is working on an amendment to the Criminal Code that would give customs officials powers to investigate crimes. Mr. Pelikán said the move would increase efficiency as it would do away with a situation under which customs officials hand cases over to the police who then go over the same ground. A similar idea was put forward last week by ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš, whose ministry oversees the Customs Administration. The interior minister, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, has come out against the proposal. He recently announced the creation of a new financial police unit to focus on tax crime from the start of next year.
Tributes have been paid to the gymnastics legend Věra Čáslavská, who has died at the age of 74. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Czech and world sport had lost one of the greatest icons. The country’s foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said Čáslavská had enjoyed unparalleled fame but at the same time was a modest and brave fighter. The head of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval, said the most successful Czech Olympian ever with seven gold medals had always been an example to others as a sportsperson and thanks to her civic positions and the remarkable fighting spirit she showed in her private life.
The Chinese company CEFC is free to purchase Prague’s high-end Mandarin Oriental hotel after the deal was approved by the Office for the Protection of Competition. The news was announced by a spokesperson for the anti-trust agency on Wednesday. The Chinese firm will buy the Malá Strana property through its company Karmelitská Hotel and says it aims to capitalise on the rapid rise in the number of tourists between the two countries. CEFC has already made substantial investments in the Czech Republic, buying Slavia Prague football club, the Lobkowicz brewery and a large chunk of air carrier Travel Service.
Marek Dalík, who was a close advisor of Mirek Topolánek when the latter was prime minister, left the Czech Republic on Wednesday morning, one day before he is due to begin serving a prison term, Neovlivní.cz reported. Mr. Dalík told the news website that the trip had been planned in advance and that he had informed the judge in his case of his intentions. On Thursday afternoon the one-time political operator is due to start a four-year term for soliciting bribes in connection with a large military contract in 2007.
Hamid bin Abdal Sani, a member of the Qatari ruling family who was prosecuted for having paid sex with underage girls in Prague, has sued the Czech Republic for non-material damage and lost income, the news site iDnes.cz reported. The police arrested Sani in September 2004 and he spent eleven months in custody for which he is demanding 250,000 crowns in compensation. He was later sentenced to 2.5 years in absentia, after being extradited to Qatar on the promise that he would be prosecuted there. Local prosecution dropped the case shortly after. In 2015 a Prague court lowered Sani’s sentence to 11 months and 8 days, the exact amount of time the prince spent in a Czech jail before his extradition.
Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská, whose seven gold medals made her the country's most decorated Olympic athlete, has died at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer. Čáslavská's medals included golds in gymnastics in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic games. She was a vocal critic of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and was banned from competing in the Olympics after signing the pro-reform manifesto "Two Thousand Words".
A Prague Municipal Court has ruled that a shop owner must pay a 5,000 crown fine for posting the picture of a man who stole one of his electric bikes on Facebook. The picture was shared by hundreds of users thanks to which the police apprehended the thief in record time. However the shop owner was served a fine by the Institute for Protection of Private Data on the grounds that only the police had the right to see the footage from his security camera. Although the Prague Municipal Court originally ruled against the fine, the case went to the Supreme Administrative Court which requested another hearing.
Two months after the Brexit vote the Czech Embassy in London reports a heightened interest from British nationals with Czech roots in acquiring Czech citizenship. According to the news site aktualne.cz. the embassy is getting dozens of calls a day with requests for information regarding travel to the Czech Republic after Brexit and the possibility of having dual citizenship. Over 100 requests for Czech citizenship have been filed in the past two months alone. Aktualne.cz says embassies of other EU member states in Britain are getting similar requests.
Former Czech national football captain and Arsenal midfield star Tomáš Rosický has announced his return to Sparta Prague. Rosický’s contract with Arsenal terminated at the end of last season, fuelling speculation about his next move. Rosický last played in the Czech league for Sparta before quitting the club fifteen years ago for a high-profile transfer to Borussia Dortmund.
Prague Zoo has signed an agreement with Beijing Zoo on the loan of a Golden Snub-nosed monkey. The breed, indigenous to Central and Southwest China, cannot presently be found outside of Asia. Prague Zoo will thus be the first European zoo to acquire a specimen. The agreement also pertains to the loan of Giant Pandas for which Prague Zoo is currently building a special pavilion.
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