Jiří Havel, a Member of European Parliament for the Czech Social Democrats, died in Vienna on Sunday after a long illness, the news agency ČTK reported. He was 55. Jiří Havel was elected MEP in 2009, three years after the served as deputy prime minister for economy in a Social Democratic government. An economist by profession, he was a former member of the totalitarian communist party before he joined the Social Democrats in 1997.
The new Czech justice minister, Pavel Blažek said he was planning to streamline the country’s justice system. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr Blažek said the existing four types of prison, depending on the level of security, should be reduced to two. That would save dozens of millions of crowns, Mr Blažek said. He also announced the ministry was going to hold a public tender for the supplier of bracelets for home arrests, an alternative type of sentences seldom used in the Czech Republic.
The Crystal Globe for the best feature movie at the 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was awarded to the film The Almost Man by Norwegian director Martin Lund. The Italian movie Piazza Fontana: The Italian Conspiracy by Marco Tullio Giordana received the Special Jury Prize while prize for best director went to the Canadian filmmaker Rafaël Quellet. The Ukrainian movie House with a Turret by Eva Neymann won the winner of the festival’s East of the West section while actresses Helen Mirren and Susan Sarandon received awards for contribution to world cinema.
Prague's Evropská street connecting the centre of the city with Ruzyně international airport has been closed for traffic on Sunday after a large sinkhole appeared there on Sunday. The crater of around four metres across and five metres deep, and the police closed the street in both directions, warning that traffic jams could form in neighbouring streets. It's not clear what caused the road's surface to collapse.
The police on Sunday discovered the body of a 54-year-old man in a pond in Prague, only hours after the body of his 4-year-old girl was found in the same reservoir. The police said they would not comment on the case but announced the man was the girl’s father. The circumstances of the case are under investigation.
The Czech tennis pair Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká lost to Venus and Serena Williams 5:7, 4:6 in the doubles final in Wimbledon on Saturday. In the first set, the Czechs were able to keep up with the favourites and tied the set 5:5 but the Williams sisters eventually prevailed. Wimbledon was the second Grand Slam final for the Czechs who won last year’s doubles at the French Open.
The Polish police and border guards have been put on alert over a three-week-old baby girl who was kidnapped in the Czech city of Ústí nad Labem on Wednesday, Czech TV reported on Saturday quoting Polish media. The girl was snatched from a carriage in front of her mother by a man who reportedly spoke German and drove off in a VW car towards Germany. The Czech police alerted their colleagues in Germany and Poland and asked them for cooperation. Polish media report the kidnappers might be heading towards Belarus.
Several Czech Romany groups on Saturday called for a boycott of Monday’s official ceremony in commemoration of Romany victims of the Holocaust. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and other officials are to attend the event held at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, in southern Bohemia; however, some Romany representatives said the government should first remove a large pig farm built on the site of the camp after the war. The farm’s existence has been a controversial issue in the Czech society for years; attempts by several Czech governments to remove failed due to high relocation costs demanded by the farm’s owners.
Meteorologists on Saturday warned against strong thunderstorms that will hit the north of the country later in the day. Up to 70 mm of precipitation is expected to fall in the region which could swell local rivers as the soil is already soaked by previous rain. Storms, heavy rain and strong winds have been causing problems in the Czech Republic over past several days. Fallen trees block roads and railway lines in many parts of the country and dozens of people were rescued from their flooded homes.
The Czech military has lost capacity to perform tasks arising from its international commitments and treaties, the army’s new chief of staff, Petr Pavel told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday. General Pavel said either the army will have to restructure, get more funds from the state budget or re-define its role. The new chief of staff also said that under his command, the army would be more open in expressing its views and recommendations. Lieutenant General Petr Pavel assumed the post of the army’s chief of staff last month when he replaced Vlastimil Picek. He served in the UN peace-keeping force in the Balkans and commanded a Czech special operations unit before becoming deputy chief of staff in 2011.
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