Czech daily news roundup: Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Afghan traveling from Germany commits stabbing and rape in Karlovy Vary, crown reaches nine-year high against euro, extreme flood warning in place today. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.01.2022 09:17:00 (updated on 04.01.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

14:45 Local office cannot obtain Babiš Pandora Papers documents

The Černošice municipal office, under which former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš's permanent residence falls, cannot gain documents on Babiš's properties abroad as this is not possible within international legal frameworks. The announcement about the Pandora Papers case against Babiš was made by the Interior Ministry. The local office is trying to find out whether Babiš violated conflict of interest laws by not declaring his ownership of shares in offshore firms. But the Interior Ministry will not be able to assist in the case, according to today's statement.

13:30 Record-breaking number of Czechs could compete at Winter Olympics

The Beijing Winter Olympics, starting in a month, could see a record number of Czechs competing. Around 130 Czechs could take part in the event, much more than the previous record of 95 set at the previous games in South Korea in 2018. The high number of Czech representatives is partly down the first ever appearance of the Czech women's ice-hockey team at the games. The Czech team also includes figure skaters in all four categories, skaters, bobsleigh riders, skiers and snowboarders, led by the double Olympic champion Ester Ledecká.

12:15 Man sentenced to 21-year jail sentence for Ukraine fighting

The Prague City Court sentenced a man who took part in fighting in Ukraine to 21 years in jail for terrorist attack and for participation in a terrorist group. The man fought alongside pro-Russian separatist forces until at least May 2018. The judgement of the Court is not final, but the judge in charge said there is no doubt that man left the Czech Republic to fight in Ukraine, based on communications available and photographic evidence. He was released from the Czech army in 1997 and traveled to the Donetsk region of Ukraine in June 2014 to fight against Ukrainian government troops.

11:35 Four women prosecuted for falsifying vaccine certificates

Criminal investigators in Vsetín are prosecuting four women who participated in the falsification of certificates of completed Covid vaccination. Two of them worked in the local vaccination center. According to the police, the women forged documents for more than 70 people, receiving almost CZK 500,000 in bribes. They now face years in prison as a result of the crimes of accepting bribes and of forgery. It's thought the women were involved in falsifying Covid certificates since at least September 2021.

9:50 Railway deaths fall in the Czech Republic

The lowest number of deaths on railways and tram tracks in the Czech Republic for 19 years was recorded in 2021, according to figures released by the Railway Inspectorate. 205 people died on the tracks last year, a decline of 16 per cent year-on-year. The number of incidents on the railways increased by four per cent in total, however, to 3,854. The number of people killed by trains was 163, a decline of 32 on the previous year. This was still the second lowest figure in the last ten years. It is thought the decline in railway and tram-related deaths is linked to the decline in passenger movement as a result of the Covid pandemic.

Crime Afghan arrested in Karlovy Vary for stabbing and rape

A 23-year-old Afghan national was arrested by Czech police on Sunday evening in Karlovy Vary. Police say he stabbed a 37-year-old woman at the local railway station and later raped a 19-year-old girl.

The man allegedly inflicted severe stab wounds to the chest of the woman at the train station and then fled the scene. The woman then staggered to a nearby restaurant, where she fell unconscious and was taken to hospital. She is now in a stable condition. Shortly after the stabbing, the man raped a 19-year-old woman after she refused him sexual intercourse. The police detained the Afghan shortly after the rape was reported. If found guilty of the charges against him, he faces up to 18 years in prison.

Economy Crown reaches nine-year high against euro

The Czech crown strengthened against the euro on Monday to its strongest level since October 2012. The crown strengthened to CZK 24.77 to the euro in the afternoon. At the same time, it weakened against the dollar to CZK 21.99. The Prague Stock Exchange as a whole weakened mostly due to a significant decline in ČEZ shares, as well as a falling share value for Komerční banka.

The crown strengthened due to an optimistic start for markets after the new year. The recent increase in the base interest rate by the Czech National Bank to 3.75 per cent before Christmas also contributed to a strengthening of the crown.

Weather warning Extreme flood warning in place today

Heavy rainfall and the thawing of snow at higher altitudes will raise river levels in the Czech Republic, especially in the Šumava region, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. Various rivers are expected to rise significantly today, leading the Institute to impose an extreme weather warning for floods.

High river levels can lead to water pouring over banks into the surrounding areas. This leads to potential reduced tree stability in waterlogged soil, damage to roads, danger for drivers and potential loss of possessions. The Institute therefore recommends that people monitor the situation closely and forecasts throughout the day and avoid river-related leisure activities.

Energy crisis 2021 sees record number of people changing gas supplier

A record number of Czechs changed gas supplier last year, according to data from the Electricity Market Operator. A total of 384,998 changed supplier, an increase of almost 184,000 on the previous year.

The high number of people switching providers was driven in large part by the bankruptcy of various energy companies as a result of the Europe-wide energy crisis. The largest company to go out of business, Bohemia Energy, supplied energy to almost a million Czech customers. The month after Bohemia Energy went bankrupt saw the highest number of supplier changes taking place, with 110,290 customers switching to a new supplier.

Public transport Prague city transport to operate holiday schedule in January

Throughout January, Prague public transport will run on a holiday timetable, meaning longer intervals between services especially at peak travel times. Authorities have justified the measure by a significant decrease in passengers resulting from more people working from home amid high Covid numbers in the Czech Republic.

A drop of around 30 per cent in passenger numbers has been reported. If traffic returns to normal levels, public transport will go back to the usual full schedule on January 31. Another factor behind the reduced schedule is a lack of drivers resulting from Covid illness and self-isolation.

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