Five Czech nationals who disappeared in Lebanon last July have been found alive and in fairly good health, the Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday evening. All five, who were allegedly abducted, are now in the hands of the Lebanese security services. News site Neovlivni.cz reported earlier that a group claiming to be behind the kidnapping had made contact, demanding that three men arrested in Prague on the suspicion of terrorism in 2014 not be extradited to the United States. The Foreign Ministry has confirmed that a special plane will be dispatched to Lebanon to bring the Czechs home.
Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who last week caused a stir by proposing to halve the tax on draft beer has said he would not be opposed to reducing the VAT on non-alcoholic beverages and water from 21 to 10 percent as well. Mr. Babiš, who was accused of blatant populism by both opposition and coalition deputies, made the latest proposal in an interview for the daily Právo, saying that the VAT reduction on water would cost the state 15 million crowns, that on non-alcoholic beverages 50 million. Commentators have linked his proposals to the autumn Senate and regional elections.
Rail transport was disrupted in many parts of the country on Monday after the two biggest private companies RegioJet and Leo Express received hoax bomb threats. Over 1,000 people were evacuated from their morning trains as explosives experts searched wagon by wagon. The security operation ended in the late afternoon hours. The hardest hit route was that between Prague and Ostrava. Damage estimates have not yet been released.
Iranian businessman Shahram Abdullah Zadeh, who was released from prison on a 150 million crown bail on Monday, was arrested in Brno on an Interpol warrant soon after his release, the ctk news agency reported citing a police source. The news agency says Zadeh, who is suspected of being the chief organizer of a 2.5 billion crown scam linked to the import of fuels, is likely wanted for fraud in another state. Zadeh paid a record 150 million crown bail to the Regional Court in Brno after spending 22 months in prison. His trial, which was originally to start last November, has already been adjourned three times due to the absence of his defense lawyers.
The Regional Court in Brno has extended an order for quadruple murder suspect Kevin Dahlgren to remain behind bars, upholding an earlier ruling by the Brno Municipal Court. Dahlgren’s appeal to be released on bail was refused on the grounds that he might try to flee the country. The 23-year-old suspect fled from the Czech Republic in 2013 shortly before the bodies of four of his relatives were found in their home in Brno-Ivančice. He was extradited to the Czech Republic by the US late last year and now awaits trial. If convicted he could get a life sentence.
The Czech Republic is on the brink of a flu epidemic with the number of cases up by 67 percent in the past week, Jan Kyncl, the head of the epidemiology centre of the State Health Institute reported. The Zlin region is the worst affected with over 1,500 cases in 100,000 inhabitants. The authorities report 33 serious cases and four flu-related deaths.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek, who is on a three day visit to Egypt, is due to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi later today. The talks are expected to focus on security issues and the fight against ISIL, the migrant crisis, bilateral cooperation and the possibility for Prague to host a large archeological exhibition highlighting the era of pyramid builders in Abusir, where Czech archeologists have been active for over half a century. On Sunday the head of the Czech archeological team announced their latest find – an 18-metre long wooden barge that is over 4,500 years old.
The Czech Republic will give over 6 million euros in aid to Syria in 2016, the ctk news agency reports citing government sources. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is to officially announce the sum at the Syria Donors Conference in London on Thursday. The objective of the international conference is to raise significant new funding for humanitarian efforts in Syria and to provide increased support for Syria's neighbouring countries next year and in the years ahead. The Czech Republic has earmarked 4.4 million euros (119 million crowns) for development aid and 1.6 million euros (43 million crowns) for humanitarian aid. The money should help finance the medical evacuation programme MEDEVAC, the EU’s MADAD Fund set up in response to the Syrian crisis and the grant programme A New Elite for Syria.
A nationwide search is on for two men who attacked and seriously injured a forty-one-year-old Syrian national in Prague over the weekend. The Syrian is hospitalized with stab wounds. According to the news site Lidovky.cz the victim and his girlfriend are both actively engaged in helping migrants. According to her the attack was preceded by a number of threats, including having a swastika sign sprayed on their car.
Czech snowboardcross champion Eva Samková, 22, came close but was beaten in the snowboardcross final at the X-Games in Aspen, Colorado on Sunday. The Czech was defeated by American Lindsey Jacobellis, 30, who clinched her tenth victory in the competition. It is the second time Samková finished second in the final at the X-Games, a repeat of 2014 when she also lost to Jacobellis. To date, no female European has won the title. Samková won the gold medal in the same discipline at the winter Olympic games in Sochi.