Prague could in future support Ukraine in the fields of military expertise or training, the Czech minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said on Thursday. Mr. Stropnický added that a Czech Army logistician was already cooperating with the Ukrainians in Kiev and that the country had sent clothing and other materials to soldiers. He also said that an agreement recently signed in Minsk was not fulfilling expectations. Mr. Stropnický was speaking after talks in Prague with his Polish counterpart Tomasz Siemoniak. The two also discussed the situation surrounding Islamic State.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has reached the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free tennis championships after beating Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine 6-3 4-6 6-2 on Thursday. A day earlier Berdych achieved his 500th match win, becoming only the third Czech-born to achieve that feat in the post-1968 Open Era (after Ivan Lendl with 1,071 and Tomáš Šmíd with 517).
The family of the gunman who shot eight people dead in an apparent random attack on a pub in Uherský Brod on Tuesday tried to prevent him getting a new gun license, Czech Television reported on Thursday. The killer, who took his own life in the incident, had been granted a new gun permit just last month. According to the mayor of Uherský Brod, Patrik Kunčar, the man’s brother-in-law said the family had called on his general practitioner not to give him the necessary medical certificate in view of his mental instability. iDnes.cz reported that after the gun license had been granted (but not collected) the family also contacted the police, who discussed the man with his GP and a psychiatrist. They then issued him with a summons for a second medical test, which he picked up last Friday. A police spokesperson said its officers had followed the only possible procedure in the matter.
It has been revealed that eight people managed to escape from the back door of the pub in Uherský Brod where another eight were shot dead by a gunman on Tuesday. Among those who managed to flee was the operator of the Družba pub, Pavel Karlík. Mr. Karlík said he had been ordered not to discuss the incident but would describe what had happened following the conclusion of a police investigation. He said he and his staff would decide next week whether to reopen the pub.
A court in Havlíčkuv Brod on Thursday sentenced a former Roman Catholic priest to five years in prison for raping four women and sexually abusing a girl of 13. The state prosecutor appealed the verdict, saying ex-cleric Erik Tvrdoň should have received a sentence of eight or nine years after being found guilty of sexual intimidation, blackmail, rape, sexual abuse and producing child pornography. He is reported to have preyed on members of his congregation.
The Czech environment minister, Richard Brabec, has reached agreement with his counterpart from the German state of Saxony, Thomas Schmidt, on how to deal with bad smells evidently emanating from chemicals plants on the Czech side of the Krušné hory mountains that are bothering residents of Saxony. Speaking after a meeting in Prague on Thursday, the two said Saxon officials would be quicker in informing their Czech colleagues about such odours. For their part, the Czechs will send inspection teams to collect air samples more promptly. A Czech official said 19 complaints had been received so far this winter but that each time inspectors had visited the scene the problem was no longer in evidence.
Prague has again delayed the opening of the Blanka tunnel, this time indefinitely. The long-planned launch had been set for April. Cables damaged by heavy rains last year and damp must be replaced, Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek told reporters on Thursday. However, the number of cables that have to be replaced, the time frame and the cost are not yet clear, Mr. Dolínek said. The tunnel, which has cost the city around CZK 37 billion to date, was originally meant to be completed in 2011. Since then a number of launch dates have been announced and not met.
A new exhibition in Prague’s Jewish Quarter explores post-war Czechoslovakia as a way station for thousands of Jews who found themselves homeless after WWII. Entitled Dashed Hopes, the exhibition at the Robert Guttman Gallery focuses on the tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who passed through Czechoslovakia after surviving Nazi concentration camps on their way to building new lives. Visitors will see photos capturing children’s shelters, the revival of religious life, the return of the chief rabbi to Prague from Palestine and Chanukah celebrations from 1945.
The local authority in the Eastern Moravian town where eight people were killed in a pub shooting on Tuesday say they have received numerous offers of help from people in the Czech Republic and abroad. To date around CZK 35,000 has been donated to a public collection for the families of victims of the deadly incident in Uherský Brod, while cash donations have also been handed in. On Wednesday the town council voted to make CZK 500,000 available to the families. However, the deputy mayor of Uherský Brod, Jan Hrdý, said police had still not released a list of the names of those killed, who ranged in age from 27 and 66. A local man aged 63 took his own life after reportedly opening fire indiscriminately at patrons in the Družba pub on Tuesday afternoon.
In the wake of Tuesday’s deadly mass shooting in Uherský Brod, the Interior Ministry is planning to allow doctors access to the national arms register to check whether patients hold a firearm license, spokesperson Hana Malá has said. At present only general practitioners, who issue a health certificate to applicants for firearm licenses, have information about firearm owners in the Czech Republic. The Interior Ministry also wants to extend the powers of the police to be able to immediately seize licenses and firearms from anyone sent for an extraordinary medical evaluation. In the Czech Republic, firearms applicants must meet basic conditions, including citizenship, age requirements, health requirements, and a clean criminal record. Then they must pass a special two-part exam.