Former political prisoners have held an annual memorial to the victims of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. The ceremony at Prague’s Motol crematorium culminated with the laying of a wreath at a nearby graveyard. The communist authorities refused to hand over the ashes of those they executed to their families, interring them at unknown and unmarked locations; deputy chairman of the Confederation of Political Prisoners František Šedivý said research suggested the cemetery was probably where many of the victims’ ashes had ended up.
The funeral has taken place of a Czech soldier who died in Afghanistan last week. The soldier was killed in a road-side bomb attack in the province of Logar, where he was serving with a Czech provincial reconstruction team. The Czech defence minister, Vlasta Parkanová, army chief of staff Vlastimil Picek and Chamber of Deputies chairman Miloslav Vlček were among around 500 people who attended the funeral in Uherské Hradiště. The soldier who died was the second Czech soldier to be killed in action in Afghanistan: a Czech military policeman died in a suicide bombing in Helmand province in March.
A fan of Baník Ostrava football club died after falling from a special train taking supporters to a game against Sparta Prague in the Czech capital on Saturday. The accident occurred between the Bezpráví and Brandýs nad Orlicí stations in east Bohemia. The man, who was 30, is believed to have died after falling out a train door he opened while smoking a cigarette.
Meanwhile, special temporary offices set up at Sparta’s stadium dealt with cases of hooliganism on the spot during the Sparta-Baník match on Saturday afternoon. Two Baník fans were found guilty of committing a misdemeanour after being arrested for fighting in the ground, while another man also came before a Prague 7 misdemeanours commission. A temporary court was also in place but did not sit as the offences were not deemed sufficiently serious. A court official said the measure, being tried out for the first time, had proved effective in deterring trouble. There has been violence between the two clubs’ fans several times in recent years.
Baník Ostrava beat Sparta 2:1 in that game, denting the reigning champions’ chances of retaining the Czech league title. With one game remaining Sparta are two points behind Slavia Prague, who beat Mladá Boleslav 2:0 away. The last round of the season takes place next Saturday: Slavia play host to Jablonec at their new stadium, while Sparta travel to Liberec.
The business manager of the Czech national football team says it is unlikely that former international Pavel Nedvěd will return for the European Championship which begins next month in Switzerland and Austria. The announcement on Friday by Czech captain Tomáš Rosický that surgery would rule him out of Euro 2008 has led to increased speculation over a possible comeback by Nedvěd. However, national team business manager Vlastimil Košťál told the daily Sport that his information was that the veteran midfielder would not make himself available for selection. The Czech squad for the European Championship will be named on Wednesday.
The Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek withdrew with injury from a semi-final match at the Rome Masters on Saturday. Štěpánek was trailing Serbia’s Novak Djokovic 0-6 1-0 when he pulled out, complaining of a wrist problem. The Czech had beaten world number one Roger Federer in the previous round in Rome.
Runners from around the world are gathering in the Czech capital ahead of the Prague International Marathon. Up to 5,000 runners are set to take part in the 14th Prague marathon, which gets underway on the city’s Old Town Square at 9am. Unlike during a half-marathon earlier this year, participants will cross Charles Bridge, which is currently undergoing extensive reconstruction. A number of tram lines will be diverted and traffic restrictions will be in place.
A 33-year-old woman who passed herself off as a 13-year-old girl and then a 12-year-old boy was found not guilty on charges of identity fraud in Brno on Friday. Upon announcement of the verdict, however, Barbora Škrlová was immediately re-arrested. Ms Škrlová is also a key witness in a high-profile child abuse case. A judge will now decide whether she should remain in custody until this child abuse trial takes place on June 17. She stood accused of identity fraud alongside one other individual, Kateřina Mauerová. Ms Mauerová posed as Barbora Škrlová’s adoptive aunt, and successfully had Ms. Škrlová taken into a children’s home from which she later escaped.
A Czech soldier who was injured in a rocket attack in Basra, Iraq, on Thursday is to remain in hospital for the next couple of days, said an army spokesperson on Friday. The soldier, whose hand was hit by shell splinter, underwent an operation at a British field hospital, where he will remain for at least the next couple of days. His condition is stable and his life is not in danger. According to military personnel, he will be brought back to the Czech Republic as soon as possible.