Around Slovakia

Taliband fights on
The Cleaner wants out of jail
Slovak Nazi on trial
Radioactive material found
Football fan in hospital
Doctor and official in slammer
Just a working fool

Taliband fights on

THAT groovy Jihad jive: Dale (left), Peteraj (centre) and Young.
photo: Courtesy of the band

JOHNNY Jihad and the Taliband are becoming a regular act Monday nights at downtown Bratislava's Café de Zwaan.
One of the few live bands operating in the capital's Old Town pubs, the Taliband consists of John Dale (who used to front the local act Drink, Drank, Drunk) John Young (a lawyer and one-time Roma expert for the European Commission Delegation in Bratislava) and Kamil Peteraj (a local translator).
The band, which leans towards acoustic versions, plays a mix of familiar rock, from Hendrix, Guns and Roses, CCR and the Eagles, to Bob Marley, Chumbawumba and Sting ("or Stink, as they call him around here", said Young).
Dale said after the March 11 show that the Slovak live music scene was dying for lack of places to play or practice and a city ordinance cutting off live music at 22:00.
"There are plenty of great musicians in Slovakia, but there just aren't enough places to play to get the experience. Great musicians, but few good bands," he said.
According to Dale, bar owners are not willing to risk having live music on one of their prime business nights, meaning bands often get relegated to Monday night gigs. "Monday night? You might as well be playing Tuesday morning.
Dale added that young Slovak music talents were leaving the country rather than fighting the system.
"What would you do? You can make $500 at a small club in New York or Sk500 in Bratislava."

The Cleaner wants out of jail

ALOJZ Kromko, known as Lojzo the Cleaner, is tired of being in prison. The convict, allegedly a professional killer, is in jail for assault causing bodily harm, illegal possession of arms, hooliganism and violent behaviour. Although he is waiting for another court trial on three counts of murder and six of attempted murder, he has submitted a formal request to be released before finishing his 28-month sentence for the earlier convictions.
The Cleaner is accused of machine gunning two men to death in a Žilina restaurant, and spraying a car with machine gun fire in the south of the country, in which one man was killed and four injured.
The Chief Justice of the Nitra regional court, Eduard Heinrich, said that "He has a right to request release like any other citizen."
He added that the court would "judge the request in its full context".
The Cleaner's release could complicate his upcoming court case, in which the plaintiff is relying on seven secret witnesses to testify.

Čadca - Műnich
Slovak Nazi on trial

LADISLAV Nižňanský, 85, a German citizen of Slovak origin, is to be tried in Műnich, Germany for having participated in various war crimes in Slovak settlements at the end of World War II. Nižňanský, who according to Slovak press in the 1970s and 1980s worked for Radio Free Europe, was sentenced to death in absentia by Slovak courts in 1962 together with 13 other former members of the Nazi commando squad Edelweiss. Nižňanský led the unit, which was directly under the SS, and is said to be responsible for a war crime known as Bloody Sunday, which took place January 21, 1945.
On that date his unit was accused of murdering almost 150 people in the central Slovak villages of Ostrý Grúň and Kľak, including 48 children, and burning both villages to the ground. The killings were said to be in reprisal for the Slovak National Uprising, a domestic rebellion that was ruthlessly put down.
The prosecution estimates that Nižňanský was involved in 189 murders. In the first half of the 1940s Edelweiss hunted down Jewish refugees and Slovak partisans.
Nižňanský later produced documentaries for Radio Free Europe. Jozef Špetko, a historian who worked with the radio, said he and his colleagues knew little about Nižňanský.
"We knew he had been sentenced to death, but nobody knew any details. To a certain extent he was a mystical figure. We knew the US management at that time was covering for him," Špetko said.
Nižňanský was born in 1917 near the northern Slovak town of Čadca and emigrated first to Austria in 1948 and later to Germany. He now lives in Műnich.

Radioactive material found

EMPLOYEES of a Košice-based company which specialises in detecting radioactive materials found a steel belt contaminated with the radioactive radio-nuclide CO-60, a cobalt compound, in one of the rail wagons parked on a side track in the Čadca railway yards March 8.
The wagon was loaded by a Žilina-based firm with iron scrap, but was returned to Slovakia on March 6 from the Czech town of Nová Huta near Ostrava after the radioactivity was discovered.
Čadca employees marked the wagon with a warning sticker, parked it on a side track and abandoned it. State Health Institute (ŠZÚ) inspectors said on March 7 that the radioactive belt was not dangerous to human health, but ordered its immediate destruction.
Ľudmila Auxtová from the Banská Bystrica branch of the ŠZÚ said the material had been produced in 1993. Because cobalt's half life is 5 years, she said, the radioactivity of the belt had weakened, leaving it harmless to people who merely handled it.
"If someone sat on the belt for eight hours every day, that would be indeed dangerous," she said.

Football fan in hospital

FANS of the second division Spartak Trnava football club on Saturday attacked a group of fans for the rival team from Nitra in Trnava; nine people were charged with hooliganism and one with assault after Ľubomír Ch., 19, of Nitra was taken to a Bratislava hospital with a fractured skull and brain injuries. Another 15 people were injured in the premeditated attack.

Banská Bystrica
Doctor and official in slammer

A DOCTOR and a high-placed Health Ministry official from the Banská Bystrica region, who demanded a payoff of Sk2.5 million from Andrej F. of the Svalz firm to approve certain hospital services being taken over by the private sector, are in custody awaiting charges, say police.

Banská Bystrica
Just a working fool

A STATE doctor from central Slovakia's Roosevelt hospital in Banská Bystrica worked almost five and a half months extra in overtime last year.
According to the country's Labour Code, employees in health care services must not work more than 150 hours a year overtime on top of regular working hours, but this doctor spent 931 hours working extra shifts, an average of 18 hours extra per week. Slovakia's working week is set at 42.5 hours.
The National Labour Inspectorate (NIP) recently carried out a survey of working hours in 11 hospitals and eight universities around the country. Staff at Roosevelt hospital worked the most hours.
In the first half of 2001 doctors earned on average Sk21,000 ($435) per month including overtime premiums.
NIP deputy head Anton Kasan said: "This situation shows that the hospital has serious problems with organising work, not just that health sector employees are trying to make some additional money to supplement their miserable wages."
"If someone worked more than 900 hours extra that means he was almost always at work, which leads us to doubt whether he was able to do his job properly," Kasan said.

Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports

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