Czech politicians have given a cool response to European Commission proposals to reform Europe’s asylum and immigration procedures. The proposals were presented Wednesday. They include the idea of either dropping the existing situation where refugees should apply for asylum in the first EU county they arrive in. That could mean a fairer share out of immigrants across the EU. Otherwise, the existing system could be kept but other countries would have to do more to help. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he was opposed to all ideas of a permanent distribution of immigrants and said policy should remain in the hands of national governments. President Miloš Zeman, through his spokesman, said he opposed “masked quotas.” Condemnation of the proposals came from across most of the political spectrum.
Police have completed their investigation into a suspected attack on a cargo train and called for three suspected to be charged with planning a terrorist attack, the ČTK agency has reported. If found guilty they could face sentences of up to 20 years. Police want to charge another three with covering up a criminal act. The incident dates back to September 2014 when left wing radicals allegedly planned to attack a cargo train carrying military equipment with Molotov Cocktails on the main line between Prague and Plzeň just outside the capital. The accused intend, according to their lawyer, to deny the charges and say they are fabricated by the police.
The Czech Minister of Interior has said that a group of Iraqi refugees who left the Czech Republic for Germany at the weekend would have to demand asylum if they are returned. The group of 25 refugees were being hosted in the country as part of a Czech programme, Generation 21, but decided to quit the country. The minister added that it asylum is not sought and granted they could be returned to Iraq. The ministry said that it so far did not have information about Germany’s intentions towards the group. A motion to the government meeting on Thursday will call for the Generation 21 programme to be cancelled.
A Prague court has ruled that former lower house lawmaker David Rath is entitled to 280,000 crowns in payments withheld during his time in custody before coming to trial. The payments denied to him formed part of daily allowances for lawmakers. The court ruled that there was no reason for the payments not to be made since Rath continued contributing to legislation. Rath, a former Social Democrat minister, was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison last year for corruption and influencing public tenders.
In football, Sparta Prague flied out Wednesday for their Europa League first leg tie against Villarreal. The Czech club has a series of injury worries ahead of the last eight encounter. Goalkeeper Bičík and defender Holek both missed the weekend league in which Sparta lost 2:0 against Jihlava. They should be recovered for Thursday’s match in Spain but midfielder Zahustel and Jiráček are almost certain to miss the match.
The Czech trade balance in February recorded a surplus of 22 billion crowns, a rise of 4.5 billion crowns compared with the same month in 2015. The biggest contributors to the surplus was engineering goods and automobiles with payments for imported mineral oils making a much smaller dent in the surplus due to low oil prices.
In ice hockey, Liberec have booked their place as the first team in the finals of the Extra Liga. It is the first time the club has reached the finals. Liberec beat Mladá Boleslav 5:2 on Tuesday night, after going down 0:1 at the start of the match. The win took Liberec’s tally to an unbeatable 4:0 in the series. They will face the winner of the ongoing contest between Sparta Prague and Plzeň with the series there standing at 2:2.
The Panama-based legal firm of Mossack Fonseca was involved in the insolvency procedures surrounding top Czech football club, Slavia Prague, according to some of the so-called leaked Panama Papers. It helped create Samoa-based company Online Services which was a creditor in the proceedings of the club last year. The proceedings involving Online Services were eventually dropped after the purchase of a stake in Slavia by the Chinese company CEFC.
The Magnesia Litera award for Czech book of the year has gone to Točité věty (Spiral Sentences) by Daniela Hodrová. The judges described it as a powerful work reflecting on friendship, memory and man’s ultimate concerns. Ms. Hodrová, who is a literary theoretician and is in her late 60s, picked up the award and a cheque for CZK 200,000 at a ceremony at the New Stage of the National Theatre in Prague on Tuesday night.
President Miloš Zeman has invited dozens of representatives of European aristocratic and royal families to Prague for celebrations of the 700th anniversary of the birth of Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV. However, a large majority have turned down the invitation, hlidacipes.cz reported, quoting the embassies of European states in Prague. The website said Mr. Zeman had asked UK PM David Cameron to intercede with Queen Elizabeth but no members of the British royal family were coming to Prague for the celebrations, which take place on May 14.