News Briefs

Maria-Valeria bridge building officially begun
HZDS and SNS fail to agree on cooperation
Schuster returns to Slovakia after final surgery in Austria
Charges mount against former spy-boss Lexa
Dubliner Irish Pub murder trial begun

Maria-Valeria bridge building officially begun

The reconstruction of the Maria-Valeria bridge linking the town of Štúrovo, Slovakia, with the city of Esztergom, Hungary was officially launched on October 17 in Esztergom. The historic bridge, first completed in 1895, was destroyed in World War II by retreating German troops.
The bridge will be rebuilt by the consortium GanzIS, consisting of the Hungarian companies Ganz and Koezgep and Slovak company Inžinierské Stavby Košice. The total value of the project is 19.4 million euros, of which Slovakia will provide 10.9 million euros with the aid of a 5 million PHARE grant.
The steel bridge will be 509 metres long and will be designed for pedestrians, bicycles, regular bus traffic and vehicles up to 3.5 metric tons, and should be completed by 2002.

HZDS and SNS fail to agree on cooperation

The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) leader Vladimír Meeiar and Slovak National Party (SNS) head Anna Malíková failed to sign an agreement on cooperation between the two opposition parties following the November 11 referendum on early elections.
One of the main disputes in the negotiations was reported to be the SNS's refusal to support NATO entry. The HZDS and the SNS are the only two parliamentary opposition parties. They formed the 1994-1998 government coalition along with the Workers Party (ZRS).

Schuster returns to Slovakia after final surgery in Austria

Slovak President Rudolf Schuster returned from Innsbruck, Austria, to Košice on October 14 after successfully undergoing a final surgery to close an incision in his large intestine and to repair his damaged abdominal wall. The president said he planned to return to his office full-time as of November 1.
A presidential spokesperson said that Schuster would change his Bratislava residency to a villa near the Slavín monument. The Bureau of Protection of Constitutional Authorities approved the move, as it was deemed that the president would need increased security after his summer life-threatening colon problems.

Charges mount against former spy-boss Lexa

The investigation of the alleged illegal disposal of firearms and ammunition belonging to the Slovak Secret Service (SIS) was concluded last week with eight people accused of crimes ranging from abuse of public office, embezzlement, illegal possession of fire arms and money laundering. Among the accused was former SIS boss Ivan Lexa, who is currently evading an international warrant for his involvement in the 1995 abduction of the president's son, said Slovak Chief Investigator Jaroslav Ivor.
As SIS director, Lexa is reported to have appointed a disposal commission which with his consent illegally stashed SIS weaponry worth 3.7 million Slovak crowns. The cache included 233 pistols, 30 sub-machine guns, 5 machine guns and ammunition.

Dubliner Irish Pub murder trial begun

The murder trial of 23 year-old Mikuláš P. began in Bratislava on October 17. Also known as 'Miki', he has been charged with a double murder in the Dubliner Irish Pub in Bratislava on July 7, 1999.
After arguing with two brothers in the pub, Marián and Ján Š, Mikuláš P. pulled a gun and shot both at close range, killing Ján and wounding Marián. While fleeing the pub, Mikuláš P. shot into the crowded pub and killed bystander Tomáš A. If convicted of the murder, he could face 15 years in prison.

Compiled by Chris Togneri
from SITA, TASR and Sme

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