NEWS BRIEFS

Karol Ježík, Sme daily founder and editor-in-chief, died on December 14

Karol Ježík, the Sme daily paper's founder and editor-in-chief, died in hospital in Bratislava at the age of 45. He did not recover from a head injury suffered one week before at a music concert.

For a long time, Ježík worked as the sports editor at the Czechoslovak Press Agency's (CSTK) bureau in Slovakia, and then with the Smena daily. After the fall of Communism, his colleagues chose him as the editor-in-chief. On January 3, 1993, he was dismissed as a result of Premier Vladimír Mečiar's meddling with the Smena publishing house. He then founded the new daily Sme, taking with him a number of the editors from Smena.

Independent political observers consider the establishment and development of the Sme daily unique because it was the only daily in post-communist countries that survived on the media market by relying exclusively on its own devices.

The daily was exposed to permanent political pressure. In 1995, all Bratislava-based printing houses refused to print Sme, so its printing had to be shifted to southern Slovakia's Komárno for almost a year, until the publisher of Sme purchased a separate printing house.

In 1995, the Mečiar government stopped the operation of the Prvá Investičná Spoločnosť, an investment company whose capital was reportedly behind the publisher of the daily. Despite these attacks, Sme stayed afloat, and led by Ježík, became one of the most successful newspapers in Slovakia, with a print run of over 80,000 copies.

Ježík was hospitalized on December 8 in critical condition after undergoing complicated brain surgery. He had been found unconscious in a restroom in the Petržalka suburb of Bratislava during a concert he was attending. He in all probability collapsed there and suffered a head injury.

After being discovered, he was examined at a hospital in Petržalka and sent home. He was released even though he complained of stomach pains and had problems with his nose and vision. During the night he collapsed again, and until his death, remained unconscious in the hospital in the intensive care unit.

The Health Ministry has founded a special commission to determine whether the doctors at the Petržalka hospital who initially discharged Ježík are guilty of negligence.

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