Czech news in brief for January 12: Friday's top headlines

Prague's Libeň bridge closed due to technical flaw brought on by frost, press conference on shooting developments planned for today. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 12.01.2024 08:56:00 (updated on 13.01.2024) Reading time: 4 minutes

Inspirational Czech 4-year-old reaches Mt. Everest base camp

In a remarkable feat, four-year-old Zara, hailing from the Czech Republic, set a world record by independently reaching the base camp of Mount Everest, becoming the youngest woman to achieve this milestone. Accompanied by her father and seven-year-old brother, Zara covered a challenging 270-kilometer journey with an elevation gain exceeding 20,000 meters.

Despite facing extreme cold of -20 to -25°C, Zara displayed exceptional physical conditioning, outpacing numerous trekkers. Her upbringing involved walking long distances in the Malaysian jungle, contributing to her robust physical and mental abilities. Zara, who speaks Czech, Chinese, and English, resides in Malaysia with her family.

Charter 77 founder dies in Sweden

František Janouch, the nuclear physicist and founder of the Charter 77 Foundation, passed away at 92 in Stockholm, according to an announcement by the foundation. Janouch, a significant figure in 20th-century public life, played a crucial role in supporting Czech dissidents through the Charter 77 Foundation during communist rule.

Praised by Prime Minister Petr Fiala and MEP Alexandr Vondra, Janouch's exile in Sweden led to the foundation's establishment, aiding dissidents with literature and banned materials. After the Velvet Revolution, the foundation contributed to civil society and initiated various humanitarian activities, earning recognition for its impactful work.

International Czechia supports US-UK operation in Yemen

The Czech Republic supports the coalition operation in Yemen led by the United States and Britain. Petr Hladik, director of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East and North Africa section, stated that the Czech Republic was informed in advance and backed the intervention against Houthi rebel military positions. The operation, which targeted locations obstructing shipping in the Red Sea, received Czech support, aligning with the mission's limited objectives.

The Foreign Ministry maintains contact with the humanitarian organization People in Need, ensuring the safety of Czech citizens in southern Yemen, an area unaffected by Houthi control. The strikes were a response to Houthi attacks on merchant ships. The Czech president said on X that the attacks in Red Sea cannot be tolerated.

Police Czech crime rate falls slightly in 2023

In 2023, Czechia experienced a marginal 0.3 percent decrease in overall crime rates, recording 181,417 crimes. The clearance rate rose to 55.4 percent, up by 2.5 points. Despite a tragic shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts, the police assert stability in the country's security. However, the financial damage from crimes surged by over CZK three billion to 23.4 billion.

Notably, cybercrime growth slowed, and seized items increased significantly, reaching almost nine billion crowns. Prague and the Moravia-Silesia Region had the highest crime numbers. Homicides increased from 150 to 159, with cyber-related extortion contributing to rising violent crime.

Tragedy Press conference on shooting planned for today

Interior Minister Vít Rakušan and police education director Jan Paďourek will hold a press conference today on developments related to the December shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts. Police, following an internal audit, found officers not at fault in the tragedy where a student killed 14 and injured 25. The Office of Internal Control praised police actions but recommended improved crisis communication.

The General Inspection of the Security Forces is also investigating. The parliamentary security committee met on Thursday but failed to reach conclusions. The motive for the perpetrator, who turned the gun on himself, remains under police investigation.

Prague Frost-related malfunction closes Libeň Bridge

Tram services between Palmovka and Manin were suspended due to the emergency closure of Prague's Libeň bridge Thursday, following a technical fault likely caused by severe frosts, says the Technical Communications Administration (TSK). The inundation bridge, part is closed for trams, affecting routes 1, 6, 14, and 25, with diversions in place.

The TSK is assessing the situation, and the bridge closure also impacts pedestrians. Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib assures urgent support for a swift resolution. The bridge, in poor condition, was previously closed in 2018. Repair work by a consortium led by Metrostav TBR is slated for spring 2025.

Food Billa to stop selling eggs from cage farms

Czech retail chain Billa will become the country's first to eliminate cage-raised eggs from its offerings, exclusively stocking eggs from free-range, litter, or organic farms. The move aims to enhance egg quality and improve conditions for farm animals. Billa's CEO Liam Casey states this decision aligns with the company's commitment to animal welfare.

The strategy extends to eliminating cage-raised eggs from their private-label products in the coming years. Casey highlights the superior quality of eggs from more humane conditions, emphasizing benefits such as increased protein and vitamins, offering customers a fuller taste, vibrant color, and distinctive aroma.

International Czechia and Poland in breach of EU electoral law

Czech Republic and Poland violate EU election law, according to Court of Justice Advocate-General Jean Richard de La Tour. Their national laws, preventing citizens from other EU countries residing in these nations from joining local or European political parties, result in discrimination, says the European Commission.

The court's decision is pending, but La Tour emphasizes compliance with European law, asserting that mobile EU citizens should have equal candidacy rights. Both countries, the only EU members with such restrictions, have faced EU legal action since 2012. A verdict is awaited as the court proceeds with the case.

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