The vast majority of Czechs would support tighter laws in the fight against terrorism, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the agency TNS Aisa for Czech Television. Eighty- five percent of respondents said they would back the approval of a law allowing the authorities to detain terrorist suspects without trail, as well as refusing to let them in or out of the country. The questionnaire was inspired by tough anti-terrorist measures presented to the Slovak Parliament by the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico. Speaking for Czech Television Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan said that the Czech public failed to realize that the legislation in place was perfectly sufficient in the fight against terrorism. He said that in backing excessively tough measures people failed to realize that anyone could be mistakenly suspected of terrorism.
Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Josef Becvar on Saturday paid a pre-Christmas visit to Czech soldiers stationed in Mali. The general brought them small gifts and thanked them for their good work, wishing them a safe return home. The Czech Republic currently has 38 soldiers in Mali, but the government is currently negotiating an increase in the Czech presence in order to make up for the planned withdrawal of French soldiers who would be redeployed to boost the fight against the Islamic State.
Czech Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf, who was arrested in a Swiss bank on Friday on suspicion of financial fraud, has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. In a statement prepared with his lawyer, Mr. Ransdorf says he was acting on behalf of a significant client with whom the bank had not been in communication for ten years. As regards the fake papers on the grounds of which bank employees alerted the police, Mr. Ransdorf said he had received them shortly before making the visit to the Zurich bank. He denies that he and the three Slovak nationals who were arrested with him visited the financial institution with the aim of withdrawing or transferring 350 million euros, as news sources reported. According to Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak the Swiss authorities are investigating the matter as attempted financial fraud.
The tiny post office in the West Bohemian mountain town of Boží Dar – meaning God’s gift –is snowed under with mail from around the country and abroad, Czech Television reported. The post office annually stamps hundreds of thousands of Christmas greetings with a special Christmas stamp, making these letters a popular collector’s item for the sender and recipient. It is also the post office to which Czech children send letters to Baby Jesus or Ježísek telling him what they’d most like to get for Christmas. In the course of December the post with its four employees gets on average 15 kilograms of mail a day. Last Christmas it processed 358 kilograms of mail, with some letters from Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.
The Czech Republic is taking part in Building Bridges, a European Restorative Justice project focusing on building bridges between offenders and victims of crimes. The pilot project undertaken in two Czech prisons between August and November is reported to have brought positive results both on the side of victims and offenders and there is interest in continued participation. In the project victims are invited to meet with offenders, to ask questions and share how the crime was committed and how it affected their lives. Furthermore, it enables offenders to become more aware of the consequences of their crime and its impacts on the lives of others. Similar pilot projects have been taking place in Germany, Italy, Hungary and Great Britain.
The man who stabbed to death a 28-year-old librarian in the west Bohemian town of Horní Bříza in May of this year has been placed in a mental hospital after a court psychiatrist concluded that he was mentally deranged and could not be held responsible for his actions, the internet news site novinky.cz reported on Saturday. According to the site the state attorney is planning to close the case next week. The tragedy triggered a wave of criticism after it emerged that the attacker had been admitted to a mental institution in January, allegedly suffering from delusions and threatening to kill someone, only to be released a month later.
The Social Affairs Ministry wants to introduce stricter criteria for the register of homes with social services for the aged, Czech Television reported. The move comes in the wake of criticism from Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová who criticized conditions in some of these institutions. Following inspections of these homes around the country, the Ombudswoman said there were huge differences between the quality of services provided. Excessive use of tranquilizers, physical restraint, poor quality food, and lack of qualified medical care were among the most common failings cited.
Czech Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf, who was arrested is a Swiss bank on suspicion of fraud on Friday, has been released and is on his way back to the Czech Republic, the head of his office Helena Sucha told the ctk news agency. MEP Ransdorf, who contacted his office, has allegedly denied involvement in financial fraud, saying that he did not have an account in the bank in Zurich where he was arrested along with three Slovak nationals and had not been trying to withdraw 350 million euros as Swiss police sources reported. Ransdorf said he had been detained in Zurich for administrative reasons until Saturday when he had been given permission to leave the country. The MEP said he was on his way back to Prague and would provide an explanation for the affair on Facebook immediately upon his return. Two of the Slovak nationals have likewise been released; one remains in detention.
The month of November was one of the warmest on record, the Czech Meteorological Office reported. Temperatures throughout the month were 3 to 3.5 degrees higher than the long term average. Records were broken at monitoring stations around the country as November highs reached 18 to 20 degrees Celsius several times in the first half of the month. The warmest day of the month was November 10 when the Znojmo monitoring station recorded 20.8 degrees Celsius. Records date back to 1752.
Europe must help refugees but not at the cost of its own security, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said at the weekend conference of Slovakia’s ruling party Smer-SD. The Czech head of government said the migrant crisis was a challenge that required a strong and decisive Europe, which would do its duty to those in need but at the same time take effective measures for its own security. He said the migrant wave must be regulated on Schengens’s outer borders and securing them must be a joint EU effort. The Czech prime minister rejected the notion of a “small Schengen” of a few select states, saying that such a plan would lead to the expulsion of those states which were most committed to defending the common open space.