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Košice
Ombudsman Office granted more powers

THE CHIEF justice of Slovakia's Constitutional Court, Ján Mazák, met with ombudsman Pavol Kandráč in Košice on March 29 to discuss a new law expanding the Ombudsman Office's responsibilities to include the protection of human rights, the court's press officer told the TASR news agency.
The law, originally proposed by the parliamentary committee for human rights, minorities and women's issues, passed parliament on February 3, 2006, against the cabinet and Justice Ministry's recommendation.
Therefore, as of April 1, 2006, the ombudsman is allowed to submit proposals for legal proceedings before the Constitutional Court.
To facilitate the process, Mazák agreed to send judicial advisors from the court to aid the ombudsman in gaining the required legal expertise. Mazák also promised to organize lectures on this issue.
During a tour of the restored court building, Mazák and Kandráč also discussed the possibility of moving the ombudsman's office into the court buildings in Košice, as it still does not have satisfactory premises in Bratislava.


Slovakia
Melting snow and downpour raise water levels

MELTING snow and continuing rain prompted Slovak authorities to announce a third-degree flood alert for several rivers around the country at the end of March.
The Danube's water levels have been constantly on the rise, reaching 672 cm under Devín Hill and 699 cm in Bratislava on March 29, which constitutes a second-degree flood alert, the TASR news agency wrote.
The Morava even reached 552 cm near the village of Moravský Svätý Ján, a third-degree alert.
Extensive downfall - reaching around 20 cm daily near the Danube and Morava basins - accompanied by a high amount of melted snow, has caused vast water level increases, especially on the Nitra River and in eastern and central parts of the country.


Bratislava
Internationally wanted ATM robber captured

AN ITALIAN criminal specialized in robbing ATMs, A. Di Paolo, 41, was arrested by Slovak police in Bratislava on the night of March 28. Over time, Di Paolo and three accomplices stole more than €80,000 before being picked up on an international warrant, the TASR news agency wrote.
The accomplices are imprisoned in Italy and Di Paolo's extradition process underway, Slovak police stated on March 29.


photo: Jana Liptáková

THE FIRST international wine barrel rolling championship took place in Pezinok on April Fool's Day, April 1, as part of the third annual kapustnica festival. Nine contestants, including two women, pushed 225-litre barrels down a 20-metre track as fast as possible. In the end, František Minarovič from Pezinok emerged victorious.
When it came to the kapustnica, 14 teams from Slovakia and the Czech Republic competed in cooking the most delicious rendition of the traditional sauerkraut soup. The Lions team from Pezinok won with this recipe: boil sauerkraut; add onion, Moravian bacon, pork shoulder and neck and home-made spicy sausages; sprinkle in some pepper; mix in tomato paste and top it off with double cream.


Bratislava
Slovaks to train Iraqis in demining

THE CABINET approved a Defense Ministry proposal on March 29 that will widen the range of duties for Slovak army engineers participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to the new measure, which now seeks parliament's approval, Slovaks engineers will be assigned to teach their Iraqi counterparts mine clearing techniques, as well as defend coalition troops carrying out engineering duties.
Slovak troops, still 110-strong, have focused on demining activities since arriving in Iraq in July 2003.


Sielnica
Rural development discussed at workshop

MORE than 80 politicians, economists and scientists from 20 countries attended a workshop entitled Politics Promoting Investment and Innovation in Rural Development that opened in the village of Sielnica, near Zvolen in central Slovakia, on March 27.
Organized by the National Forestry Centre from Zvolen, the three-day workshop aimed to discuss investment and innovation in forest harvesting that will bolster the competitiveness and economic efficiency of rural development.
"It is paramount for us to sustain rural development while continuing to develop essential forest management, which are closely related areas," said Slovak Agriculture Minister Zsolt Simon.
Any conclusions politicians attending the workshop can draw from it will be important during the drafting and implementation of environmental and forest management laws, he added.
Upon the workshop's close on March 29, organizers arranged excursions to the nearby Čierny Balog village and Vydrovská Dolina valley to present forestry as a key method for reducing unemployment in the hilly areas.

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