The state prosecutor in the trial of a gang accused of being behind the contamination of alcohol which resulted in the deaths of more than 50 people has called for life sentences for two of the main defendants. Prosecutor Roman Kafka said in his summing up before a court in the eastern city of Zlín that the crimes of Tomáš Krepela and Rudolf Fian were exceptional and they deserved exceptional punishments. He called for the man accused of being the main distributor of the methanol tainted spirits, Jiří Vacula, to be sentenced to 20 years. A final verdict for the six accused is expected on May 21 or 22. The methanol scandal exploded in September 2012 with the death toll rapidly mounting, especially in the Zlín region.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic dropped by 0.4 percentage points to 7.9 percent in April, the biggest monthly drop this year according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The total number out of work stands at just under 575,000. The latest drop was partly due to the start of seasonal work as well as the continued upturn in the Czech economy and more people registering themselves as self employed. Unemployment has been on a downward slide since January.
The 69th Prague Spring international music festival starts in the Czech capital on Monday with a performance of Bedřich Smetana’s My Country by the Czech Philharmonic. The festival offers over 50 concerts by symphony orchestras and other ensembles including the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. The Prague Spring festival this year focuses on Czech music, and commemorates the 100th anniversary of birth of conductor Rafael Kubelík, one of the festival’s co-founders. The even runs until June 3.
The Czech national hockey team lost to defending champions Sweden 3-2 in the second game at the hockey world championships in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday evening. The Czechs were 3-1 ahead but Sweden equalized and took two points for a win in a penalty shootout. With three points after two games, the Czechs are ranked fourth in Group A of the championships; on Monday, the Czech team face Canada.
Hundreds of Vietnamese people from across the Czech Republic staged a protest on Sunday in front of China’s embassy in Prague. With banners that read “Stop China”, “Get Out of Vietnam”, and others, they protested against what they see as China’s intrusion into allegedly Vietnamese territorial waters in the South China Sea. In recent weeks, Vietnam’s government has complained of incidents in which Chinese vessels deliberately rammed Vietnamese ships in an attempt to gain control of parts of the area. The organizers of Prague’s protest told the news agency ČTK that despite living far from Vietnam, they had a duty to defend their home country. There are an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 Vietnamese people living in the Czech Republic, many of them Czech citizens.
The Czech national hockey team faces Sweden in the second game at the hockey world championships in Minsk, Belarus, on Sunday evening. The Czechs, who defeated Slovakia 3:2 in overtime in the first game on Friday, will modify their line-up; the first line will feature Hertl and Rolinek alongside the start veteran Jaromír Jágr. Coach Vladimír Růžička also had to replace defenceman Polák who got injured in Friday’s game, and has left for Prague. Instead, Michal Jordán from the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL has been added to the Czech team’s roster.
A monument to the late Czech writer Josef Škvorecký was unveiled in his native town of Náchod, eastern Bohemia, on Sunday. The monument is in the form of a bench with a realistic statue of the writer. Josef Škoverecký, who was born in Náchod in 1924, came to prominence in the 1950s with the novel Cowards which depicted the end of WWII in his town through the eyes of a teenager. He left Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion of 1968 and settled in Canada where he and his wife launched Sixty-Eight Publishers which published books by authors banned in Czechoslovakia. Josef Škvorecký died in 2012.
The Czech Republic would like to see tougher sanctions imposed on Russia over the country’s involvement in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr Zaorálek also criticized independence referenda staged by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The voting will not solve Ukraine’s problems, according to the Czech foreign minister who instead called for diplomatic negotiations with the participation of representatives of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions where the referenda are taking place.
A 21-year-old drunk driver killed a 45-year-old wheelchair-bound in a hit-and-run incident in České Budějovice on Saturday night, a police spokeswoman said. The driver was apparently going too fast and hit the man in the wheelchair who was riding on the side of the road, instantly killing him. He then drove off but had another accident later when he drove into parked cars. The 21-year-old driver has been arrested, and faces up to six years in prison.
Some 27 percent of Czech save on food, according to a survey by a Czech discount retail website, skrz.cz. Another 19 percent of those polled said they saved on their free-time activities. They poll also found that ways people try to save money in cities differ from those living in the county; while 38 percent of the former said they saved most on food, 28 percent of the later said they instead saved on their free time. Some 20 percent of the people who took part in the survey said they did not save on anything.