Police have reported an accident on the main motorway between Prague and
Brno in which more than 10 trucks and two cars were involved, according to
Police said at least one person was injured in the accident.
Snowfall and high winds have complicated traffic in the area with the motorway blocked in both directions at some stages. Drifts have also blocked traffic on side roads.
Czechs are marking the 49th anniversary of the death of student Jan Palach who set himself on fire on January 16, 1969, in protest to the growing public apathy to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. He died three days later; he was just 20 years old. A number of events were scheduled to honour his memory and sacrifice including a memorial ceremony at the Philosophy Faculty at Charles University on Tuesday afternoon.
Vote on immunity postponed
MPs were due to vote on Tuesday afternoon on whether to allow the police to press criminal charges against the prime minister and his deputy for the abuse of EU funds in connection with the Stork’s Nest complex. In the end, the decision was pushed onto the backburner. Mr. Babiš and Mr. Faltýnek had made the call for immunity to be lifted.
The prime minister has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said the affair was intended to force him out of politics. The previous Chamber of Deputies had stripped the pair of their immunity, also on their request, but they regained it with re-election in October. The prime minister and his close associate are accused of misusing 50 million crowns of EU funding for Stork’s Nest, a conference centre and farm south of Prague. On Tuesday Mr. Babiš sharply criticised a report on the matter produced by the European Anti-Fraud Office, known as OLAF.
The two candidates for the post of Czech president have not yet reached
agreement on the number of television debates they will take part in before
the second round of voting. Incumbent Miloš Zeman has proposed four on-air
discussions, on the stations Nova, Barrandov, Prima and Czech Television.
However, his challenger Jiří Drahoš told Radio Impuls on Tuesday he would only participate in two debates, the number suggested by the president himself after Saturday’s first round vote count. He said he didn’t have time to take part in more because of his campaign schedule.
Mr. Zeman won 38.6 percent of the vote in the opening round, ahead of Mr. Drahoš on 26.6 percent. However, the latter has the backing of a number of defeated first round candidates. The run-off takes place on January 26 and 27.
One of the seven candidates who failed to make it to the second round in
the presidential elections, Michal Horáček, has offered major help to
Jiří Drahoš. Mr. Horáček said he would turn over all of his rented
billboards, internet advertising slots and voters’ centre to President
Zeman’s challenger. He also called on the volunteers in his own campaign
to work for Mr. Drahoš.
Another defeated candidate, Marek Hilšer, has offered to help Mr. Drahoš on social media and said he was also ready to back him on the stump.
Seven senior state and church representatives unlocked the chamber that
holds the Czech crown jewels on Monday. The valuable treasures, which are
among the symbols of Czech statehood, are only removed from the chamber in
Prague’s St. Vitus Cathedral on special occasions.
From Tuesday they will be on display at the Vladislav Hall at Prague Castle as part of an exhibition entitled Founded 1918 marking the centenary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia.
The crown jewels consist of a crown that belonged to St. Wenceslas, a royal orb and sceptre and a number of other items.
Incumbent Miloš Zeman’s team will provide details on Tuesday regarding
television debates ahead of the second round of voting in the Czech
presidential elections, his spokesman said. Mr. Zeman refused to hold
public discussions with other candidates prior to the first round. However,
he said after Saturday’s vote count that he would be glad to meet his
challenger Jiří Drahoš face to face.
Mr. Zeman suggested the ideal number of debates would be two. His spokesman wrote on Twitter on Monday that “campaigns should be about opinions” and that was how the president’s camp would proceed.
Mr. Zeman received 38.6 percent in the first round. Mr. Drahoš got 26.6 percent but has the backing of a number of defeated first round candidates. The second round takes place on January 26 and 27.
Ester Ledecká will become the first Czech to represent her country in both
snowboarding and downhill skiing at the Winter Olympics in South Korea next
month. The 22-year-old is regarded as one of the favourites in the
snowboard parallel giant slalom, in which she dominates the World Cup.
Only three names have yet been confirmed in the Czech downhill skiing team for PyeongChang. Another 24 skiers have been nominated, with a final line-up due to be announced before next Sunday’s deadline.
Representatives of the South Moravian Region say a new main railway station
should be built near the river in Brno. Explaining the decision announced
on Monday, they said that it would be possible to use European Union money
to build in that location, while the project would also be completed sooner
than in the centre of the Moravian capital. As a second possibility, they
suggested a location close to the current station.
The regional politicians’ decision will serve as a recommendation to the government, who will decide on the matter. The Brno city authorities are also due to choose a proposed location for the project, which has been discussed for many years.
The case of jailed doctor Jaroslav Barták has to be reopened after the
Supreme Court accepted an appeal he lodged, the Czech News Agency reported
on Monday. Mr. Barták was already serving a 12-year prison term for the
sexual abuse of female assistants when he was handed eight more years for
planning three murders and blackmail while behind bars.
However, the basis for the court’s decision to reopen the case is not yet clear. The reasoning will only be revealed when a regional court delivers the Supreme Court’s decision to participants in the hearing.
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