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Around Slovakia

Dutch hiker falls off mountain
Slovak canine saves five-year-old Turkish girl
Former president's son hired by state
Brother of slain Romany vows revenge
Agrocomplex fair draws farm animal fans
House Martins gather on power lines

High Tatras
Dutch hiker falls off mountain

Peter S., 30, a tourist from the Dutch city of Utrecht, died on August 18 after plummeting 100 metres to his death from the peak of Kohútik mountain in the High Tatras. Eye-witnesses said they saw falling rocks followed by a person - they then immediately contacted the Tatra Mountain Rescue Service.
An Air Transport Europe helicopter was brought in to retrieve the body and transport it to Poprad. A doctor on the scene said Peter S. died from severe head injuries.



Domina, a Slovak Schnauzer, became a hero August 20 when she found a young girl trapped in the destruction caused by a Turkish earthquake.
photo: TASR

Bratislava
Slovak canine saves five-year-old Turkish girl

A scruffy-looking Schnauzer
saved the life of a five-year-old girl in Turkey August 20 after sniffing out the youngster, who had been trapped under a hill of rubble after a huge earthquake in the north of the country in mid-August.
The dog, named Domina, returned to Bratislava along with a Slovak rescue team of 14 humans and 12 other dogs August 22, after three days of rescue work. She was met at the airport with flowers and a congratulatory bag of dog food.
In total, the team rescued six people in the earthquake-devastated town of Yalova, only two of whom eventually survived their wounds. They also recovered 20 bodies.
Their work came to an abrupt end when the Turkish health service called a halt to the search because of the threat of epidemic posed by the thousands of decaying bodies.


Bratislava
Former president's son hired by state

Michal Kováč Jr., the son of the former Slovak president who was kidnapped by alleged Slovak Information Service operatives in 1995, now works for the government. Last month, he got a job as an official in the consular section of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nový Čas newspaper reported.
Former President Michael Kováč said in an interview that he did not help his son get the post. "My son has the same rights as any citizen... he put in his application and has been hired," he said.
Kováč Jr., who in 1995 was beaten, tied up, driven across the border in the trunk of a car and dumped in front of a police station in Austria, has had his own troubles with the law. He still faces an international arrest warrant issued by the German police on fraud charges relating to forged documents at the Slovak foreign trade company Technopol. He told Nový Čas he is ready and willing to answer all changes in the trial, which is scheduled for this autumn.


Poprad region
Brother of slain Romany vows revenge

More than 300 Romany relatives and friends attended the August 20 funeral of Lubomír Šarišský, a young Romany man who died August 18 after being shot at the Poprad police station.
The gathering at Matejovce cemetery was marked by tears and angry verbal attacks against "police, doctors, politicians and the white majority," whom some blamed for the killing. His brother allegedly stood over the grave and vowed "revenge." One mourner told the TASR news agency the community planned to "demonstrate in front of the police building in Poprad."
Šarišský, 21, was shot in the stomach at the Poprad police station during a one-on-one police interview following a bicycle theft. Police have offered a variety of explanations for the killing, including that Šarišský grabbed the gun and shot himself. Police officials, who plan to reconstruct the accident next week, told the press they have ruled out race as a possible motive.
According to Peter Pompa, the lawyer for the Šarišský family, the incident began in the late afternoon hours of August 12, when Šarišský was bicycling in Poprad with a 17-year-old friend. Police stopped the two and accused them of stealing the bicycles. The men were handcuffed, "insulted and called dogs," and brought to the police station, Pompa said.
After an hour in the station, Šarišský was brought into a private interrogation room. Twenty or thirty minutes later, a shot rang out, and policemen ran to call an ambulance, Pompa said. While he lay on the stretcher, the wounded man called out his friend, who was standing behind bars. "They shot me," the friend recalled Šarišský as saying.
Šarišský, 21, was married and had one child. He lived in south Poprad in a house with his father and other members of his family, Pompa said.
The police officer involved in the incident has been temporarily suspended from duty due to a number of police code violations, including questioning a prisoner alone and bringing an unsecured gun into the interrogation room.


Nitra
Agrocomplex fair draws farm animal fans

Nervous ostriches and mammoth prize-winning hogs were on display along with tractors and farm machinery at the 26th annual international Agrokomplex fair in Nitra in late August.
The huge indoor-outdoor exhibition, which sprawled over 27,000 meters, is the largest event of its kind in Slovakia. It attracted thousands of visitors, who came to look at the displays of Slovak-made foods and plastics, to buy Slovak crafts, and to see the prize-winning beasts.
The Agrokomplex fair began as a major event during the communist era, and its strength today underscores that "Slovak farmers have not resigned in spite of heavy burden on their shoulders," Agriculture Minister Pavol Koncoš said in a speech to kick off the fair.
A total of 590 exhibitors participated, 22% of which were foreign companies from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Slovenia.


Staré Hory
House Martins gather on power lines

House Martin (Delichon urbica) birds have begun gathering on power lines in the Veľká Fatra and Low Tatra wilderness areas in readiness for their annual migration to equatorial Africa, said Miroslav Saniga, a scientist with the Slovak Academy of Sciences Research Center in Staré Hory. According to Saniga, the annual power line gatherings occur at the end of every August and are a sure sign that autumn is near.
Large flocks of the swallow-like birds display peculiar behavioural patterns as they prepare for their migratory flights south. From time to time, the flock can be seen in both rural and urban areas spreading their wings and releasing a "loud twitter, rippling the sky briefly" before returning to their perches for more contemplation of the journey ahead, he said.
Saniga also noted that the ceremony is not just for show - the individuals in the flock use the gathering to "get acquainted with one another" while the youngsters strengthen their wings for their flight, which will last five to seven weeks. Their path takes them over the Sahara desert for a long stretch, where they are unlikely to find much of their usual nourishment, which consists mainly of mosquitoes.


Compiled by Chris Togneri and Sharon Otterman from TASR and other sources.

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