Fire crews from around the metropolis were called to a fire at the Exhibition Centre in Prague’s Letňany district shortly before midday on Friday. The fire was reportedly caused by the explosion of two pressure cylinders in storage. Two people suffered burns and were transported to Prague’s Vinohrady hospital. Around 200 people living in the vicinity were evacuated. Preliminary damage estimates put the damage at one million crowns.
The Czech National Bank posted a profit of 46.5 billion crowns in 2016, the ctk news agency reports. In the preceding year it posted a loss of 549 billion crowns. Last year’s profit was driven largely by sound management of the bank’s foreign currency reserves, the bank said in a statement. The bank’s main goal is not to create profit, but to supervise other banks and maintain financial stability.
The Czech Trade Inspection authority has slapped a restaurant owner with a 60.000 crown fine for featuring anti-immigrant sentiments on the restaurants web page. It is the second time the pizza-house has been fined for the same transgression. Last year it was fined 30,000 crowns, which was eventually lowered to 25,000, for putting “we do not cook for immigrants” and Stop Islam statements on its website. The restaurant owner may still appeal the decision.
The Czech Justice Ministry has rejected claims from four out of five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon to compensation totaling 40 million crowns. Their claim was earlier rejected by the interior and foreign affairs ministries. The Ministry of Finance is to make a definitive decision by the end of January. The four maintain that the Czech state failed to prevent their kidnapping due to botched cooperation between the county’s intelligences services. The group of five Czechs, of which one was an intelligence officer sent out under cover, was seized in mid-2015 and released in February 2016. Their release was linked with the decision of the Czech authorities not to hand over Ali Fajad to the US in connection with a terrorism investigation.
At a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Friday, the Czech Republic and Austria protested against what they see as excessively tough conditions laid down by the EC which would enable member states to launch reverse charge pilot projects. The Czech finance minister, Andrej Babiš, is a strong advocate of reverse charge VAT, where the tax is paid by the consumer and not the seller, as a means of clamping down on VAT fraud. He believes that greater use of reverse charge could save the EU a large part of the around 170 billion euros lost every year in unpaid VAT. The Czech Republic and Austria had pushed to be allowed to introduce a 5-year pilot project of reverse charge VAT for transactions of over 10,000 euros. Austria said that under the present proposal it would be unable to meet the criteria set down by the EU allowing it to do so. Minister Babiš protested against the fact that the EC would have the right to scrap the project within six months of its launch. He said this should be up to the minister of the given state.
The Holocaust is a drastic example of where intolerance can lead if left unchecked, Senate chairman Milan Stěch said at an event marking Holocaust Remembrance Day in the upper chamber of Parliament on Friday. He said European culture is one of tolerance, but it must never tolerate those who incite religious and racial hatred. The gathering was attended by Holocaust survivors, war veterans and representatives of the Czech political and cultural scene. One of the speakers at the event was Romany singer Radek Banga who recently openly protested against the fact that one of the music awards at the Slavík Awards ceremony went to a singer whose band is notorious for its racist lyrics.
A Prague court has rejected a complaint of alleged discrimination filed by a young Somali woman who left a Prague nursing school because she was not allowed to wear a headscarf. She sued the school, seeking an apology and 60,000 crowns in compensation. The court ruled that there was no evidence of discrimination. The school headmistress argued that wearing a hijab was unacceptable at a nursing school and that hospitals where nurses were sent on training would not accept it. She moreover argued that the said student had failed to fulfil the criteria for admission by not producing a residence permit by the set date and had only come up with the hijab as her reason for leaving the school later. The case evoked heated emotions and at one point the judge ordered the courtroom cleared.
Czech Air Traffic Control reported the highest ever number of flights over the Czech Republic in 2016, the news site info.cz has reported. Czech airspace was used by nearly 837,000 airplanes, which was an increase of 6.95 percent on the previous year. June was the busiest month, with nearly 88,000 recorded flights. The biggest customer using Czech airspace was German air carrier Lufthansa, followed by Emirates and Turkish Airlines. Czech airspace has grown increasingly crowded in recent years, with the number of flights doubling since 2002.
Czech tennis player Lucie Šafářová has clinched her second victory in the women’s doubles at the Australian Open. With US partner Bethanie Mattek-Sands, she beat her Czech colleague Andrea Hlaváčková, playing alongside Peng Shuaj of China, 6:7, 6:3, 6:3. It is the fourth Grand-Slam title for the Czech-US pair.