Entries in Czech Republic (5)


US Man Arrested in Murder of Family in Czech Republic

iStockphoto(WASHINGTON) -- A 20-year-old American named Kevin Dahlgren accused in the grisly murders of a family of four in the Czech Republic has been arrested in the United States.

Czech police had targeted Dahlgren and circulated a picture from his Facebook account to police stations, border posts, immigration counters and media outlets across the country. Authorities in neighboring countries had reportedly been alerted to detain Dahlgren, whose Facebook description says he is from Palo Alto, Calif. Police spokeswoman Petra Vedrova told ABC News the suspect may be armed and dangerous.

"Police took measures to stop him from leaving the country, and we're in contact with all neighboring states," she said.

Neighbors said Dahlgren had been visiting his aunt and uncle, Veronika and Martin Harok, and their two sons, 22-year-old Filip and 18-year-old David. They were all found dead by firefighters who responded to what they believe was an attempt by the alleged killer to cover up his crimes.

"We were originally called to intervene against a fire. On the spot the suspicions arose that a violent crime had been committed. We immediately called the police," firefighters' spokesman Jaroslav Mikoska told ABC News.

Veronika Harok was a Czech language teacher at the local elementary school. Martin Harok and his son Filip were musicians who played several nights a week with a local ukulele orchestra, while the youngest victim, David Harok, was described as very involved with sports.

Bozena Zikuskova, a local restaurant owner, told ABC News that Dahlgren would come every other day and always order the same meal. She noted that Dahlgren's Czech was not even good enough to order a meal.

Karel Herman, the front man of Ukulele Orchestra Jako Brno band in which Martin and Flilp Harok played, said "Dahlgren was just visiting his cousins. He arrived in early May and was a completely normal guy."

Neighbors said the crime had shocked the community.

"It's not something you expect from the neighborhood," said , Jan Kral, 56, who said he had lived in the area for 30 years. His wife, Paulina, agreed. "It's frightening," she said. "Very frightening."

In Washington, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell offered no more information than the Czech authorities, saying, "We are aware of this tragic incident and are working with Czech authorities. For any information about the investigation, we refer you to the Czech National Police."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Czech Republic Ambassador: Don’t Confuse Us with Chechnya

iStockphoto(NEW YORK) -- The Czech Republic and Chechnya are nearly 2,000 miles apart, but that didn’t stop people from mixing up their geography.

The Boston Marathon bombing suspects, the Tsarnaev brothers, are of Chechen ethnicity. When the similar sounding Czech Republic, a country in Central Europe, began getting buzz online, the country’s ambassador to the United States stepped in to clear up the social media confusion.

 “As more information on the origin of the alleged perpetrators is coming to light, I am concerned to note in the social media a most unfortunate misunderstanding in this respect,” Ambassador Petr Gandalovič wrote in a statement, after first offering his condolences to the victims of the bombings.

“The Czech Republic and Chechnya are two very different entities – the Czech Republic is a Central European country; Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation,” he explained.

Chechens are an ethnic group hailing from the southern edge of the Russian border, known as the North Caucasus region, whose history has been marked by its violent struggles for independence. Chechnya, a republic, is bordered by Georgia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Czech Aims to Be First Tattooed President

Martin Divisek/isifa/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Vladimir Franz, 53, is a Czech drama professor, a talented painter and a prolific opera and theater composer.  But Franz wants to move out of the arts and into politics.  If he can win his longshot bid to become president of the Czech Republic, he'd go down in history as the world's first head of state with a fully tattooed head.

Franz has tattoos covering 90 percent of his body, a variety of body piercings and dyed, blue hair.

His presidential bid aims to oust Vaclav Klaus, the sitting president of the Czech Republic since 2003.  Franz is not only running as an oddity but as an independent whose political views are far less extreme than his looks.  

According to the Daily Mail, Franz' "politics are moderate, promoting tolerance, human rights, democracy and encouraging the search for alternative energy sources."

Though many think that the campaign of this unlikely candidate is a joke, Franz assures them that it is not.  He is charging full force ahead with his campaign, travelling across the Eastern European country collecting the 50,000 signatures required to run for office.

And people seem to be taking to the campaign as Franz collected almost 8,800 signatures during his first weekend of campaigning.

Though he is new to politics, Franz has already assimilated into the life of a politician, utilizing social networking sites like Facebook, where he has well over 25,000 followers.  A Facebook photo posted to his page even snaps a photo of him holding a baby in true political fashion.

Franz, whose intimidating image may be off-putting to some, graduated from law school and got a doctorate in the field of law.  He never pursued a career in law, instead dedicating his life to the arts.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Czech Army Cracks Down on Overweight Soldiers -- The Czech army is smaller than it was when it was part of the Soviet Bloc, yet its soldiers are getting bigger.

When commanders discovered that one out of every two Czech soldiers is overweight -- with some 3,500 falling into the "obese" category -- the Defense Ministry launched a battle against the bulge.  The Financial Times reports top brass have ordered military cooks to sling low-fat chow to its soldiers, and also provide diet pills to the military.

The report says the Czech troops' weight problem is a reflection of the Czech Republic's growing obesity issue.  In fact, the military is thinner than the Czech civilian population in general: one in three Czechs are said to be obese, according to The Financial Times, compared to one in seven of the country's fighting men and women.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Prague Celebrates First Gay Pride Festival 

Michal Cizek/AFP/Getty Images(PRAGUE) -- Rainbow flags waved in abundance Saturday when several thousand people marched through the streets of Czech Republic’s capital in Prague’s first gay pride festival.

BBC News reports that the colorful event was chaperoned by nearly 300 police in an effort to protect the celebration that has stirred controversy and counter-marches.

The five-day gay pride festival is backed with support from ambassadors of 13 Western nations, including the U.K. and U.S.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio