News Briefs

Schuster gives go-ahead for HZDS referendum
Police report largest ever illegal arms seizure
Police checks on foreigners in Slovakia delayed

Schuster gives go-ahead for HZDS referendum

President Rudolf Schuster announced on February 17 that the wording of the proposed referendum on early elections by the opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) was legal, and that therefore no constitutional barriers could prevent the planned referendum. Schuster conferred with seven lawyers before arriving at his decision, most of whom said that the referendum's wording would not breach the constitution.
Schuster said he would judge the referendum question again if the HZDS manages to collect the 350,000 signatures necessary to make the proposed referendum valid.


Police report largest ever illegal arms seizure

A police raid on February 20 resulted in the biggest seizure of illegal weapons and explosives in Slovak history. Former police officer Pavol K. (43) was detained after officers found 202 kilograms of Semtex (an odorless plastic explosive produced in the Czech Republic) and 200 electrical detonators in his car near Žilina in northern Slovakia. Investigators filed charges against Pavol K. for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. If convicted, he faces a prison term of up to eight years.
In subsequent house searches, police found an additional 77 kilograms of Semtex, 250 electrical detonators, hand grenades, over 100,000 rounds of ammunition, and dozens of firearms, as well as blank gun licenses. Six additional people were questioned in connection with the seizure.
The recovered Semtex was traced to a 1993 burglary of the Suja-Rajec company when 998 kilograms of red Semtex 1A was stolen with over 1,000 detonators. During the following two years, police recovered approximately 350 kilograms before the recent bust.


Police checks on foreigners in Slovakia delayed

Although Slovakia was expected at the beginning of February to have begun checks on foreigners requiring long-term residence permits, Miroslav Samek, the director of the border and aliens section at the Police Presidium in Bratislava, said the checks have been delayed. The decision to replace rubber-stamped visas in passports with visa stickers bearing a higher degree of protection against forgery have delayed the checks because the police have not yet actually received the new visa stickers.
Samek said that officers would begin checks immediately after the arrival of the stamps. The first series of the visa stickers was sent to consular sections of Slovak embassies in countries where citizens need a visa to enter Slovakia.
According to the new visa rules, an application must be filed at the Slovak embassy in the applicant's home country while visas would be issued at the border only in exceptional instances. Samek said that all visa applications at border crossings had been rejected since the new rules came into force.


Compiled by Chris Togneri from SITA

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