News in brief for April 6: Pavel to attend King Charles coronation, Kellners donate billions to cancer research

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, April 6, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 06.04.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 06.04.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

LAW Czech govt. denies pardon of elderly Czech cocaine smuggler

The Czech Ministry of Justice has rejected a request to pardon a Czech pensioner who a few years ago was caught attempting to smuggle three kilos of cocaine into Hong Kong. The convict, Vladimír Švec, maintains his innocence by claiming that he did not know about the presence of cocaine in his baggage.

Švec, who is now in his 70s, was sentenced to 27 years in prison. According to the Justice Ministry, Švec does not meet the conditions for a pardon due to his clear-cut conviction.

EVENT Firefighters find dead body in burnt car near Prague

Firefighters near Prague Wednesday evening made a gruesome discovery – a charred body in a car engulfed in flames. Rescuers attended to a vehicle on fire in the village of Štěchovice – about 18 kilometers south of Prague.

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After extinguishing the fire, they found a burnt body together with a farewell letter. The identity of the deceased is yet to be confirmed, according to the Central Bohemia Fire Department.

ECONOMY Retail sales in Czechia decline again

Amind a still-inflationary environment, retail sales in Czechia weakened by a sizable 6.4 percent year on year in February, new data from the Czech Statistical Office shows. Month on month, they fell by 0.4 percent.

Food sales declined by 7.6 percent annually, and sales in specialized stores with household products fell by 14.7 percent year on year. The sales of online and mail-order stores have also fallen – for the 14th month in a row.

diplomacy Czech president to attend King Charles' coronation

Czech President Petr Pavel and his wife will attend the coronation of King Charles III of the United Kingdom on May 6 in London. The President and his wife will fly to London on a regular flight and will be accompanied by a small delegation.

The ceremony will be held at Westminster Abbey and is expected to attract hundreds of millions of TV viewers worldwide. Charles III became king following the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, on September 8, 2022.

POLITICS Czechia won't join EU lawsuit over Hungarian anti-LGBT law

Czechia has announced that it will not join the European lawsuit against Hungary's controversial law banning the portrayal of homosexuality and transgender issues to under-18s, which the European Commission has described as discriminatory. Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision and tweeted that the Pirate Party would continue to raise the issue.

The EC has condemned the law as a violation of EU rules, including the fundamental rights of EU citizens and the rules of the EU's internal market. The law was passed by Hungary's Fidesz-controlled parliament in 2021.

charity Kellner foundation gives half billion crowns to cancer research

The Kellner Family Foundation will invest CZK 500 million in building and operating an oncological research and diagnostic center at Prague's Motol University Hospital, with the Health Ministry adding CZK 240 million for equipment. The center, which will be part of the Motol Oncological Centre, will conduct basic research for developing new drugs and create personalized treatments for individual patients.

The Kellner Family Foundation will also provide an annual CZK 50 million for four years and CZK 300 million for the construction of the center, which is expected to be completed in March 2026. The new center will serve patients from Prague and Central Bohemia, and those from Czechia with rare diagnoses.

LAW Spreading Covid no longer a crime

The Czech government has removed Covid-19 from the list of infectious diseases whose spreading is a crime, allowing the cancellation of the obligatory seven-day isolation for infected individuals. Health Minister Vlastimil Valek confirmed that isolation can still be ordered by a general practitioner or experts from the regional sanitary office depending on the patient's health condition, surroundings, or job.

The change will take effect one day after the decree is issued in the Law Digest after Easter. Covid will now be treated as a standard serious fatal illness that doctors will decide how to deal with, according to Valek.

education VŠE senate refuses to dismiss dean Ševčík

The academic senate of the prestigious University of Economics and Business (VŠE) in Prague stood by Miroslav Ševčík and refused to dismiss him, despite calls from VŠE rector Petr Dvořák and university students alike. Calls for Ševčík’s dismissal started after he was photographed last month among the protestors who scuffled with police in attempts to remove the Ukrainian flag.

The university also distanced itself from Ševčík’s actions, citing that his public behavior had long been "crossing the line." The dean, who has previously attended anti-government protests, rejected calls to resign, saying he had no reason, and also dismissed criticism that he damaged the reputation of VŠE.

politics Man with Z-letter patch receives fine, suspended sentence

A man with the Z letter patch and a logo of the Wagner group received a six-month prison sentence, and a suspended sentence of two years for approving genocide in connection with the war in Ukraine, Eva Švíglerová, spokeswoman of the District Court for Prague 1, said Tuesday. The Z letter became a symbol of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, while the paramilitary Wagner Group is actively involved in the conflict on the Russian side.

The man, who appears in photos from a rally that took place in Prague on March 11, when protesters attempted to break into the National Museum, also received a fine of CZK 12,000, and a one-year ban from staying in Prague.

culture Nail allegedly from the Crucifixion to go on display in Písek

Starting on Good Friday, April 7, and until April 16, part of a nail that was allegedly from the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified will be on public display for the first time in the Prácheň Museum in Písek. Deputy Governor of South Bohemia Pavel Hroch said the local authorities would like to build a museum centered around the relic as soon as possible.

The Christian relic was found in 2020, placed in a box from a hidden cavity in the treasury room at the monastery in Milevsko in South Bohemia. The six-centimeter nail is decorated with a small inlaid cross made of 21-karat gold.

health Prague health center to use AI in breast cancer diagnosis

Starting this month, MamoCentrum Waltrovka will use artificial intelligence to detect breast cancer, marking a first in Czechia, Czech Crunch reports. Studies show that the system is supposed to increase the reliability of mammograms by approximately 15 to 20 percent. Additionally, AI can halve the time of evaluating images to half a minute compared to 64 seconds, which is the time it takes two doctors to evaluate the images. 

The occurrence of cancer and diabetes in the population of the Czech Republic has approximately doubled as of 1989, according to a comparison of the annual reports on health from 1989 and 2017 from the Institute of Health Information and Statistics.

energy Czech regions to cooperate on developing hydrogen technologies

The governors of the coal-mining regions of Ústí nad Labem, Karlovy Vary, and Moravia-Silesia signed Tuesday a “hydrogen memorandum” together with the Ministry of Environment, which is meant to boost inter-regional cooperation on the development of hydrogen technologies. The technologies can then apply to the fields of production, storage, and selected types of transport.

Environment Minister Petr Hladík said that hydrogen could become an important source of energy in the future, mainly in transport.

society Prague police commends 13-year-olds for showing civic spirit

The Prague police praised two 13-year-old boys named Bartolomej and Jáchym for handing over a found backpack with CZK 10,000 to the authorities earlier this week. “Their parents can be proud of them, they set an example to the rest of us,” the police wrote on Instagram.

The municipal police added that, according to the Civil Code, the finder is entitled to receive one-tenth of the price of the found object, or, if the found object is of value only to the person who lost it or to its owner, to a discretionary reward. 

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