Czech police have shelved the investigation into the death of the Palestinian ambassador in Prague Jamal al-Jamal, during an explosion on New Year’s day, the CTK agency has reported. Police did not give further details of the decision, saying that objections might be still made to it. The ambassador was at first thought to have been killed when he opened a safe at the country’s mission in Prague. But police later said that no traces of explosive were found in the safe. Searches at the mission did however find illegal explosive, guns and pistols, a fact which strained relations with the Czech Republic. Suspicions of an attack were early ruled out.
The Czech Republic has the highest Internet use in the whole of Central Europe according to the results of a survey released on Wednesday by the Gemius company. It said 96 percent of Czech of active age use the Internet compared with 85 percent of Estonians and 79 percent of Latvians. Leaving aside the Czech Republic, Internet use in the other Visegrad four states of Central Europe, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, ranged between 65 and 75 percent, the survey said. With 6.7 million Internet users, the Czech Republic is the second biggest Internet market in the region behind Poland.
In football, former Czech international midfielder David Jarolím has announced he will finish his career as a player. The 35-year-old played for his country in the 2008 European Championships in Austria and Switzerland and the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He left Slavia Prague in 1997 for Bayern Munich, where hardly he featured in the first team, and later played in the top German league for Nuremberg and notably for Hamburg, where he became captain. In the last season he played in the top Czech league for Mladá Boleslav.
Police swooped on four men suspected of being arms sellers and who are now being held behind bars. The men, who were known as military arms and history enthusiasts, were from the Pardubice and South Moravia regions. Searches uncovered rifles, pistols and machine guns as well as explosives and ammunition. Police from the special unit for combatting organised crime said part of the men’s business appeared to be importing damaged guns, repairing them, and then selling them on abroad. They could face up to eight years in prison for illegal possession of and trade in arms.
A cut in Value Added Tax to 10 percent for books, baby food, and drugs was approved by the government on Wednesday at its regular weekly meeting. The reduce rate of sales tax should come into force from the start of 2015. Babies’ nappies did not make it into the basket of tax reduced items because of fears that a reduction here would conflict with European rules. The introduction of a reduced rate of tax is one of the government’s flagship measures. The Cabinet also agreed to abolish charges for visits to doctors and hospitals with the exception of use of emergency services.
Government coalition parties are due to meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the selection of a future Czech nominee for European Commissioner and the share out of posts on state company supervisory boards. All three coalition parties have put their nominees forward to be Commissioner but have so far failed to agree with each other who should get the job. Candidate of the smallest party, the Christian Democrats, Zuzana Roithová, on Wednesday withdrew her candidature with the party instead suggesting that non-party Petr Blížkovský be given the job. He is already a high placed official in Brussels. Discussions over posts on state companies has been sparked by ANO leader Andrej Babiš ignoring share out conventions and putting many of his nominees on boards.
The owner of the Czech Republic’s last large remaining miner of hard or black coal, used for making coke for steel plants, has announced that it is preparing the sale of the OKD company. New World Resources said that the sale scenario for OKD is part of contingency planning if a settlement if an ongoing capital restructuring involving major shareholders does not go through. Even so, offers for OKD and its Polish coal mining units have been invited and they will be evaluated against other options. OKD has four Czech mines producing around 10 million tonnes of coal a year. A deal with the Czech government to prolong the life of the Paskov mine and save around 2500 jobs was reached with the government earlier this year.
The government has agreed an extra 300 million crowns will be earmarked next year to help tempt foreign filmmakers to make films in the Czech Republic. This year 500 million has been allocated to bring in the foreign film companies but 2015’s budget has been raised to 800,000. The incentives allow companies to reclaim up to 20 percent of the cash spent on film making in the country. The fund was created following warnings that filmmakers were shunning the country in favour of more generous venues.
The US ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, is set to leave the Czech Republic in August, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday, quoting a diplomat at the city’s American embassy. Mr. Eisen has been in the post since January 2011 and will be replaced by Andrew Schapiro, a lawyer with Czech roots. President Barack Obama nominated Mr. Schapiro, whom he knew at Harvard, in March. However, he is one of over 30 ambassadorial nominees currently being blocked by Republican legislators; he may not be approved until next year, following elections to Congress in November.
Czechs Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafářová are set to play one another for a place in the final at Wimbledon. Kvitová, who won the tournament in 2011, reached the last four after a 6-1 7-5 defeat of another compatriot, Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová, on Thursday. Šafářová has reached this stage in a Grand Slam competition for the first time in her career after a 6-3 6-1 win over Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova. The last time two Czech female players got to the last four in a Grand Slam tournament was at the French Open in 1986, with Hana Mandlíková and Helena Suková. Kvitová or Šafářová will play either the German Angelique Kerber or Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in Saturday’s final.
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Janek Rubeš: The only question I get – and there are thousands of them – is, Can we come to Prague?