Businessman Roman Deák shot death
Businessman Roman Deák was shot dead at 20:15 on October 21 while getting out of his Mercedes-Benz on Bagarová Street in Bratislava. Police said that Deák took four bullets to the head in an execution-style shooting from behind.
Police reported that Deák had had close dealings with the mafia. Besides his business contacts with late Bratislava underworld figure Eduard Dinič, Deák had been under police suspicion of collaborating with underworld figures Milan E. and Peter S. to extort seven million Slovak crowns ($175,000), a luxury car and a Harley Davidson motorcycle from Martin S.
Police gave no motive for the murder and have yet to make any arrests. An investigation is underway.
New minister files suit against Nový Čas
New Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach filed a lawsuit against the daily paper Nový Čas on October 20 for an article the paper had published titled "Why did Harach use car of private firm?" The story questioned Harach's previous statement that since he has no direct links to any Slovak businesses, he can not be influenced in his post as Economy Minister.
Nový Čas alleged that Harach had links with Mecom, a Humenné-based meat processing firm. According to the paper, Harach was still driving a Volkswagen Passat owned by Mecom as late as one year ago. The paper suggested that Mecom hoped Harach, as Economy Minister, would protect the firm from a revision of its Mečiar-era privatisation.
In a written statement, Harach's spokesman Kamil Homola said that Harach was suing Nový Čas for "libel and misleading information of a defamatory nature."
Former Prosecutor General charged by daughter
Former General Prosecutor Michal Vaľo was accused on October 18 of committing various crimes against his daughter, including causing bodily harm, extortion and restricting the right to practise freedom of religion.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed by Vaľo's daughter Barbora, the country's former top prosecutor forced his child to give him some 75,000 Slovak crowns ($1,900) over the first half of 1999. Then, on September 10, he allegedly beat her with a leather belt, putting her in hospital for a month.
Vaľo is also accused of removing all religious items from Barbora's flat between January and September, 1999, and refusing to allow her to participate in religious ceremonies. If convicted, Vaľo could face up to three years in prison.
Tennis player forfeits; blames bee sting
The first annual WTA Tour Eurotel international woman's tennis tournament, held in Bratislava's Incheba Exhibition Centre, was won by top-seeded Amelie Mauresmo of France. Mauresmo earned a berth in the finals, where she defeated Belgian Kim Clijsters (6-3, 6-3), when her semi-final opponent Kveta Hrdličková of the Czech Republic pulled out of the competition with a bee sting on her right hand.
With the victory, Mauresmo earned 80 points in the WTA rankings (to 11th in the world) and a $16,000 purse.
Schuster amnesty frees dog meat vendors
An amnesty issued by President Rudolf Schuster after taking office in June, 1999 helped five young men accused of endangering public health get off scot free last week.
An investigation of the five men was halted on October 18 in connectioin with the amnesty, which the incoming president traditionally issues to minor offenders whose crimes have caused minimal damage.
The men had been accused of making approximately 20 kilograms of sausages from the meat of dogs infected with the trichina worm. The contaminated meat was sold in February, 1998 at a traditional Slovak fair, and made around 240 people ill with trichinosis, a disease which causes fever and muscle cramps.
The investigation had heard evidence from approximately 800 witnesses. Damages in the case were less than 1.8 million Slovak crowns, which qualified the men to be amnestied.
Record-setting heat wave in Slovakia
Meteorologists recorded record-setting temperatures on southern Slovakia's Žitný Ostrov and in Bratislava on October 25. The mercury rose to 24 degrees Celsius (75.2 degrees Fahrenheit), breaking the old Slovak record for that date of 23.9 degrees, set in Bratislava in 1989.
The temperature also also soared across the border in Hungary, where record temperatures as high as 25 degrees were recorded.
Tatra Chamois population expected to drop
Employees of the Tatra National Park fear that their current count of the chamois population in the High Tatras will reveal a decline in the population of the agile animal, which is something between a goat and an antelope.
Twenty years ago, chamois could be frequently spotted in the High Tatras, employees say, but are now a rarity. An earlier count in June confirmed their suspicions that the chamois mountain population had dwindled since World War II.
This year, 23 baby chamois were born, a slight rise in the birth rate. However, experts expect that only one third of the babies will survive the winter.
Mountain animals hold beech party
One bear, three squirrels, a bevy of jays and a dozen forest mice were seen on October 25 gorging on a crop of beechnuts from a 150-year-old beech tree in the Veľká Fatra by Miroslav Saniga, a researcher for the Slovak Academy of Science's forest research station in Staré Hory.
Saniga said that the 200 kilogram bear dominated the party, but had to fight off the apparently coordinated assaults of the other hungry animals on his cache. While the squirrel's dashes were fended off by the bear, Saniga said, the jays swooped in and the mice scurried about, both making off with their fair share of the beech nuts.
Although bears are known to eat both squirrel and mice, explained Saniga, these animals were emboldened to challenge the bear by the fact that bears generally tend to be vegetarians during the summer and autumn, and only eat meat when they emerge ravenous from their dens in the spring.
Hell Beer boosts Steiger sales
Over 185,000 hectolitres of beer were sold during the first nine months of 1999 by the Vyhne-based beer brewer Steiger. According to Steiger owner Eduard Rada, 930 hectolitres of the total were exported to countries such as England, where Steiger's 'Hell Beer' brand is a favourite.
Rada explained that Steiger has shifted its exports focus to the West in hopes of compensating for decreased beer shipments to eastern countries. France, Spain and Italy also import Hell Beer.
The company has invested heavily into brewing technology in recent years in an attempt to improve the beer's quality. Rada said that his firm spent 45 million Slovak crowns ($1.1 million) on the reconstruction of beer decanting equipment in 1996, and 76 million crowns ($1.9 million) in 1997 on the construction of a water treatment plant and the upgrading of its coolers.
Steiger reported a 1998 profit of 186 million crowns ($4.5 million), making it the seventh most profitable brewer in Slovakia, while 1999 estimates predict a 209 milion crown ($5.1 million) profit. Rada said total 1999 beer production will amount to 235,000 hectolitres, an increase of 20,000 hectolitres over last year.
Compiled by Chris Togneri
from TASR and Pravda
1. Nov 1999 at 0:00