Czech morning news roundup: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Rumors of improvement in Zeman's condition, Czech model acquitted of drug trafficking, and defect likely in tragic Liberec cable car crash. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 02.11.2021 09:59:00 (updated on 02.11.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Lead story Talk of Zeman recovery as crown jewel keys locked away

The Presidential Office has deposited the keys to the Crown Jewels Chamber in a sealed case due to President Miloš Zeman’s ongoing illness and hospitalization, the office has announced. The key to the chamber has been laid in the Presidential Office’s secret archives, a spokesperson said.

The key can only be handed back to the President according to his instruction, and is subject to strict written protocols. The presidential seal is treated in the same way. The presidential office did not disclose any new information about Zeman’s health condition. But a spokesperson from Prague’s Central Military Hospital, where Zeman is staying, has said moving the President out of intensive care to a standard hospital room is being considered but no timeframe has been agreed yet.

WORLD Czech model released in Pakistan following drugs charges

A Czech model who was sentenced to over eight years in prison for drug trafficking in Pakistan has been acquitted, her lawyer announced yesterday. Tereza Hlůšková was arrested at an airport in the eastern Pakistan city of Lahore for supposedly trafficking nine kilograms of heroin in January 2018. Footage release by Pakistani authorities showed customs officials uncovering drugs hidden in her suitcase as she tried to board a flight heading to the United Arab Emirates.

The prosecution failed to dispel reasonable doubt in the subsequent court case, with Hlůšková claiming somebody must have placed the drugs inside her suitcase. As a result, Hlůšková will be released from prison. The model has said she intends to return directly to Prague.

REGIONS Defect likely behind fatal Czech cable car crash

A former long-time head of the cable car to Ještěd in Liberec, thinks that a hiden defect likely caused the break in the tow rope that led to Sunday's fall. However, a complete investigation into the accident will take over six months. The breaking of the tow rope alone shouldn't have caused the cable car to crash, Jan Kučera, Inspector General of the Railway Inspectorate, told ČTK. On Sunday, one of the two cabins fell. A guide, who was alone in the cabin, did not survive the fall from a height of thirty meters. Rescuers evacuated thirteen passengers and a guide from the second cabin. Firefighters will likely remove the wreckage of the fallen cable car cabin today.

BUSINESS Hotel geared toward local stays opens at Prague's O2 arena

A new hotel called Stages Hotel Prague has opened at the O2 arena in Prague. The hotel has 300 rooms, and the first guests have already arrived for visits. The facility features a bar and a restaurant aimed mainly at local clients: people who live and work in the area or attend events taking place at the O2 arena or the O2 Universum venue.

The hotel is owned by Bestsport, part of the PPF investment group which also operates the events venues at the O2. Construction work for the hotel began in June 2019, with an investment of around CZK 1.4 billion.

Stages Hotel Prague at the O2 Arena / photo via Facebook, STAGES Hotel Prague
Stages Hotel Prague at the O2 Arena / photo via Facebook, STAGES Hotel Prague

Stages Hotel Prague has four floors of standard rooms and a top floor with apartments. Rooms range from CZK 2,000 to CZK 5,000 per room per night. The development is part of PPF’s plans to create a self-contained events and hospitality complex at the O2 arena providing everything people need when attending events.

Health Czech PM's trust funds buy Dutch IVF clinics

The FutureLife health group, owned by an investment fund belonging to the trust funds of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, has bought the Nij Group, the biggest private provider of assisted reproduction in the Netherlands. The transaction price has not been disclosed but media claim it is worth several hundred million crowns.

Babiš’s FutureLife is the second largest group focusing on assisted reproduction in Europe, after the Spanish IVI group. FutureLife owns 42 clinics in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Britain, Romania, Finland, Estonia and, now, the Netherlands. The company claims around 10,000 babies a year are born in Europe thanks to the company’s work. The acquisition of the Dutch clinics will take this number to 12,000.

Travel Brussels–Amsterdam–Berlin–Prague night train capacity allocated

Rail industry server Railway Gazette reports that European Sleeper has been awarded track access for its planned Brussels – Amsterdam – Berlin – Praha overnight train, the promoters confirmed on November 1. The Dutch night train start-up co-operative plans to announce a launch date and final timetable for the service ‘in the near future,' along with details of travel options and ticket prices.

Confirming that infrastructure managers Infrabel, ProRail, DB Netz, and Správa Železnic had allocated capacity for the service in the 2022 timetable, European Sleeper said the remaining details were being finalized in co-operation with its operating partner, the established Czech open access company RegioJet.

Meanwhile, the co-operative said it had engaged financial, legal, and operational expertise and an IT specialist; it is also being assisted by volunteers.

Vrbětice 130 emergency service workers awarded in formal end to Vrbětice case

130 police officers, firefighters, rescue workers and soldiers based in Vlachovice, in the Zlín region, were awarded for their work in resolving the emergency situation created by explosions at an ammunitions depot in Vrbětice in 2014. The subsequent clean-up and response was the largest and most expensive security procedure in the history of the Czech Republic.

The security procedure to deal with the consequences of the explosions took six years to complete, and the continuous deployment of thousands of people on the case cost the state CZK 1 billion. Investigations into the cause of the explosions have been ongoing during the same time period. In April this year, the Czech government announced suspicions that Russian military intelligence operatives were behind the explosions.

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