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20-03-2018

Press: Chinese group with Czech investments being part nationalised

The Chinese group CEFC, which has investments in the Czech Republic, is to be partially nationalised, Hospodářské noviny reported on Tuesday. Chinese officials have confirmed the arrest of CEFC’s founder Ye Jianming, who is listed as an advisor to Czech President Miloš Zeman, the daily said.

Mr. Ye’s share in the European part of CEFC is reportedly being acquired by Chinese state-owned firm CITIC Group. This means Beijing would co-control investments in the Czech Republic’s Slavia Football Club and brewers Pivovary Lobkowicz.

The situation has put a halt to CEFC’s planned acquisition of half of J&T Finance Group, a Prague-based banking group. The deal was unveiled in 2016 in the presence of Mr. Zeman and China’s president, Xi Jinping.

Prague insists on extradition of crime boss Krejčíř from South Africa

The Czech Republic is insisting on the extradition of crime boss Radovan Krejčíř from South Africa. The Ministry of Justice told the Czech News Agency that the country had issued several international warrants for the arrest of Mr. Krejčíř on crimes committed in the Czech Republic and that it regarded his return as being in the public interest.

Mr. Krejčíř is serving a 35-year jail term in South Africa for drug running and attempted murder. A local court ruled on Friday that he could be extradited to his native country. However, the South African minister of justice will have the final say on the question.

The notorious gangster fled the Czech Republic in 2005 after escaping during a police search of his home.

Drahoš to launch Together for Czechia group

Failed presidential candidate Jiří Drahoš is to form a new association named Together for Czechia, iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday. Mr. Drahoš told the news site that it would be an open and apolitical group. He had already announced plans to stand in the Prague 4 constituency in Senate elections in October.

Mr. Drahoš said Czechs wanted to have more engagement in politics than voting “once every five years”. He said Together for Czechia aimed to show there was more to the state than strange Mafiosi.

The former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, who had no previous political experience, was beaten in a run-off by incumbent Miloš Zeman in presidential elections in January.

Council of Europe: Czech Republic among states with most prisoners

The Czech Republic ranks among states with a relatively high number of prisoners, says an international study based on data from 2016 released on Tuesday. According to the latest Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics, the country had 213 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants the year before last.

This places the Czech Republic in a similar bracket to such states as Albania (205 per 100,000), the Baltic States (up to 245 per 100,000) and the rest of the former Soviet bloc.

Western European countries typically have less than 100 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

The Czech Republic also ranks among 13 countries judged to have overcrowded correctional facilities in the Council of Europe report.

Shooting simulation exercise planned for Prague Metro station

The Prague authorities are to simulate a shooting incident in an exercise at the city centre Muzeum Metro station. Councillors on Tuesday approved the security training, which is dubbed Muzeum 2018 and will take place during the night hours on June 20. Officials said the aim of the exercise was to test out units of the city’s integrated rescue services that would be called out if such a crisis situation occurred in the capital.

Councillors have also given the green light for anti-flood training exercises in the districts of Karlin and Libeň in September.

Jail term of eight or nine years recommended in new Rath trial

State attorney Petr Jirát has recommended a jail term of eight or nine years for David Rath and the seizure of all of the ex-politician’s property. Mr. Jirát called on Tuesday for the same punishment for ex-MP Petr Kott and his wife Kateřina for their part in a case centred on the alleged abuse of public tenders.

Mr. Rath was found guilty of bribe-taking in 2015 but was freed by an appeals court which ruled that wiretaps used to convict him were not admissible. Another court subsequently said such recordings could be used as evidence.

A one-time health minister and regional governor, Mr. Rath was originally sentenced to eight and a half years for allegedly taking kickbacks to rig public contracts.

Weather forecast

It should be partly overcast with the chance of snow in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Temperatures are forecast to reach a maximum of 1 degree Celsius. Daytime highs should climb steadily to reach around 8 degrees Celsius at the start of next week.

20-03-2018