The Prague Municipal Court has sentenced former policeman Milan Pavlis to ten years in prison for the fatal stabbing of a US citizen in Prague earlier this year. The incident took place on January 30. The victim, 44-year-old Mike Murray of the US, was spending the night in a parked vehicle near Prague’s Sazka stadium, when he and his assailant, an officer with the municipal police at the time, became involved in a fracas that was witnessed by nearby residents. The officer stabbed Mr Murray three times, once in the chest. Investigators found the suspect had been drinking heavily. Mr Pavlis, meanwhile, can still appeal the ruling.
The Education Minister Ondřej Liška has suggested that a final decision on a US radar base’s being deployed to the Czech Republic, should only be taken after a NATO summit next spring. Speaking to ČTK (the Czech news agency) on Friday, Mr Liška said the summit would be the first opportunity to decide on integration of the US missile defence system within NATO structures. He made clear that ratification on the deal agreed by Prague and Washington should go ahead in first readings in Parliament, but suggested the final vote could be postponed. Mr Liška has said in the past that he will only back the radar proposal - part of broader US missile defence plans in Europe - if it is integrated within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
The heads of parliament from 11 countries in Central and Eastern Europe are set to meet in Prague at the weekend to discuss possibilities to form joint positions on European Commission proposals. It is the first such meeting of its kind and will be held in the Czech senate. Both Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and the Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra are expected to attend. The head of the Czech senate, Přemysl Sobotka, has suggested that representatives will try to find similar standpoints on issues to be able to push their agenda more effectively at the European level. In the past, closer regional cooperation has been established, for example, through the Visegrad Four, made up of Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The opposition Communist Party has failed to push through a bill introducing property declaration statements for a segment of the population with property worth more than 10 million crowns. The step was proposed in order to try and reduce tax evasion, but was opposed by all the government MPs. It is the second time in as many years that the Communists have failed to push through such legislation. Along with the coalition MPs, five out of six independent deputies also voted against. In the past, the government blocked the Communist Party’s proposals on the grounds that existing legislation was sufficient in fighting tax evasion. The latest bill was also criticised for applying only to individuals.
The police have accused an employee of Czech Post allegedly stealing more than 60,000 letters between the years 2001 to 2006: the items were found in a tunnel at a railway station in Břeclav this spring. He allegedly stole 71 bags full of undelivered letters sent from abroad, making use of postage stamps as well as valuable enclosed items, including cash. The perpetrator reportedly hid the sacks in a lift well in a post tunnel where workers found them by chance in March. Czech Post suffered damages of at least 11,000 crowns through the loss. The post is now trying to deliver some of the material. If found guilty, the 44-year-old suspect faces up to two years in prison.
The number of wanted individuals or missing persons successfully found by the Czech police has risen markedly since the Czech Republic joined the Schengen Information System (or SIS) one year ago. A police official from a police section cooperating with Europol and Interpol made the announcement. Through use of the system, the police detained 292 people wanted by the authorities and found 121 missing in the Czech Republic over the last year. They also dealt with 750 cases of stolen or lost items, including 330 stolen cars, listed in the database. The number of persons found since the beginning of the year is almost double the number in 2007, and is five times higher than in 2006, the official said.
Czech hockey star Jaromír Jágr set a new personal record for fastest scored goal. In action in the Continental League he scored just 31 seconds into the first period against Khabarovsk. He broke a league record set earlier in the week by seven seconds. Jágr’s Avangard Omsk went on to win the game by 4:0.
The Czech secret service BIS says the Russian intelligence service has
attempted to contact and influence politicians and media outlets in the
Czech Republic in order to increase public opposition to a planned US
base. BIS makes the charge in its 2007 annual report, which was posted on
its website on Thursday. The Czech secret service said Russia had tried to
influence over politicians, state agencies and civic groups last year. BIS
also said Russian spies had been gathering information in the business
sphere and supporting Russian financial interests in the Czech Republic.
Reacting to Thursday’s news, the Chamber of Deputies security committee has called a meeting with the directors of the three Czech secret services next week. Committee chairman Jan Vidím said the agencies had not provided such clear information on the subject before.
The Czech Republic has agreed to the building of a US radar base, part of a global anti-missile defence system, in central Bohemia, with Czech lawmakers expected to vote on the matter later this year. Opinion polls have consistently suggested most Czechs are against the radar. Russia has threatened to aim missiles at the Czech Republic if the project goes ahead.
Elsewhere in its 2007 annual report, BIS said mafia groups were using contacts with state authorities, the police, the judiciary and politicians to launder money. The most active gangs involved in this kind of corruption were from Russia, the Caucuses and the Balkans, the report said. The groups have ties to the Czech underworld, as well as specialists such as lawyers and various kinds of advisors. BIS said they were also providing financial backing to some Czech university students in fields which would later lead to jobs in the state administration or the security services.
The Czech banking and financial sector is in good health because it is has little connection with the products which have led to an avalanche of problems in the United States, the governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, said on Thursday. He said for that reason the impact of the global financial crisis on the Czech economy had been minimal and the central bank had no plans to take action. The Czech National Bank announced on Thursday it was, as expected, keeping the key interest rate at 3.5 percent.