Czech prisons are overcrowded and operate at about eight percent above their capacity, the head of the country’s Prison Service Petr Dohnal said on Wednesday during a visit to Pilsen’s Bory prison. The facility in Pilsen currently accommodates around 1,380 people, which is the highest number in the country. Although it has just increased its capacity by 55 beds, it is still overcrowded. At the moment, there are 35 prisons in the Czech Republic with around 22,500 inmates. According to Justice Minister Robert Pelikán they lack around one thousand beds.
The lower house on Thursday overturned President Zeman’s veto of a conflict of interests bill designed to reign in potential conflicts of interests among public officials. The bill would ban ministers from media ownership and would bar companies where ministers have more than a 25-percent stake from receiving state subsidies, taking part in public tenders and accessing investment aid. The legislation is widely seen as targeting finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš, whose many business and media interests have long come under fire from opponents and anti-corruption activists.
Very low temperatures were again recorded in the Czech Republic on Tuesday night. A low of -27.5 degrees Celsius was registered at the Rokytská slať weather station in the Šumava mountains. In most parts of the country night-time temperatures were around -15, a forecaster from the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute told the Novinky.cz news site.
The Czech tennis player Barbora Strýcová has reached the semi-finals of the Sydney International in Australia. The 30-year-old made the last four of the competition after overcoming former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 7-5 6-7 6-4 in an epic encounter on Wednesday. If Strýcová wins her next match she will be into the eighth WTA final of her career.
A new Czech biopic of politician Jan Masaryk will be shown in the main programme in the Berlin International Film Festival next month. Masaryk, helmed by director Julius Ševčík and starring well-known actor Karel Rodin, focuses on one period of the life of the politician, who was the son of Czechoslovakia’s founder, served as the country’s minister of foreign affairs and is believed by many to have been killed by the Communists in 1948.
British journalist Clare Hollingworth, who helped many hundreds of people to escape from the occupied Czech lands during World War II, has died at the age of 105. In Prague in September 1938 when the Munich Agreement was signed, Hollingworth saw the influx of refugees from the occupied Sudetenland and later helped Czechoslovak Jews and other to escape to Poland once the Nazis took over the rest of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939. She headed the UK committee for refugees from Czechoslovakia in Poland’s Katowice, a common destination for those fleeing the Germans, finding documents and money to help many reach a third country.
MP Pavlína Nytrová quit the Social Democrats in mid-December, she announced on Tuesday. The politician said she no longer wanted to be a member of a party that she categorised as being corrupt at all levels. Ms. Nytrová is known for suggesting during a lower house debate on registered partnerships that homosexuals would attempt to legalise sex with children. She will remain in the Chamber of Deputies until the end of its current term later this year.
Miloš Zeman may announce his decision to run for a second term as Czech president in March, Parliamentilisty.cz has reported. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, told the website that his office was at present planning a major news conference for the president on March 10, two days after the fourth anniversary of his inauguration in 2013. Mr. Zeman has been hinting for some time that he would make an announcement and people around him have been suggesting in recent months that he would stand again, the news site Lidovky.cz said. The next two-round presidential elections are set to take place in January next year.
The Prague Municipal Court has given Jana Nečasová, a former chief prime ministerial aide, an 18-month suspended sentence for abusing classified information from the BIS domestic intelligence agency. The court handed a nine-month suspended sentence to influential businessman Ivo Rittig, who was accused of receiving information that the BIS was looking into his activities from Mrs. Nečasová. Mr. Rittig’s lawyer David Michal received the same punishment as him while another defendant was found innocent. Jana Nečasová’s arrest in 2013 helped bring down the government of the PM Petr Nečas, whom she later married.
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