Around Slovakia

Daughter of VSŽ chairman fined for involuntary manslaughter
Explosion threat drives neighbors away
Kováč receives honorary citizenship

KOŠICE
Daughter of VSŽ chairman fined for involuntary manslaughter

A teenage girl who had caused a fatal car crash due to speeding was sentenced to a 90,000 Sk ($2,590) fine and a four year suspension of her driver's license. The accident, in which one man was killed and another severely injured happened last December in downtown Košice. The 18-year old, Sylvia Smereková, daughter of Ján Smerek, then-president of steel giant VSŽ, was speeding in her jeep when she jammed into a taxi, killing the 20-year old driver, Martin Hudačko, and seriously injuring a 24-year old passenger, Róbert Raška. According to the law, if the court doesn't sentence the accused to a prison term, the fine for such a misdeed may vary from 5,000 Sk to 5 million Sk. But Ivan Vanko, the regional prosecutor, didn't find any reason to appeal against the court's decision. "I don't see why we should," Vanko said, adding that financial punishment is usually imposed on wealthier individuals, while others are often imprisoned. The judge, Evžen Kelji, said that the court took into account the driver's young age when deciding on the sentence. Marek Hudačko, the victim's brother, said: "As a Catholic priest, I believe that what happened shook the young driver and moved her parents also." However, he refused to comment on the sentence.


TRNAVA
Explosion threat drives neighbors away

A telephone call that threatened to blow up an ice-rink in Trnava forced 3,000 residents to flee their apartments for three hours on February 22. The ice-rink is located in Trnava's largest housing estate, Družba. A similar call had been received on February 15, but nothing had happened. However, the February 22 caller alarmed police by saying that the first call had just been a practice run. The rink has an ice-production unit with 12,000 liters (3,084 gallons) of ammonia. In case of an explosion, it would be fatal within a distance of three kilometers, and harmful within a distance of 17 kilometers. The police, acting in cooperation with Trnava Mayor Štefan Bošnák, decided to evacuate 3,000 people living in the near vicinity, and turn away all visitors who came to the regular weekend market held at the rink. Billa and McDonald's, located across the street from the rink, were closed down as well. The police found neither explosives nor the perpetrator.


LEVOČA
Kováč receives honorary citizenship

Former president Michal Kováč received a Honorary Citizenship in historic Levoča on February 19. The town decided to give the awardto Kováč in appreciation for his staging of the Levoča summit of 11 European presidents on January 23-24. "This event made Levoča well-known in Europe, and earned it great credit," said Peter Pekarčík, the Mayor of Levoča, who awarded Kováč the title. "We decided to award Kováč because he made the decision about where the summit would be held." Pekarčík thinks that Levoča hosted the heads of state in a good way. "We were able to unite our strengths for the sake of the town," Pekarčík said. "Businesses supported us, and we really appreciate the way the citizens presented themselves."


Compiled from press reports by Andrea Lörinczová

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