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Around Slovakia

Drunk Englishman spends night in custody
Traditional pilgrimage draws top state officials
Forest guards on alarm as berry picking season starts
Python on the loose scares flat tenants
Brainless baby dies after two days
Farm forms vigilante patrol to guard potatoes

Bratislava
Drunk Englishman spends night in custody

SHORTLY AFTER midnight on July 8, a Bratislava police patrol stopped a luxury Bentley car and found a drunk Englishman sitting behind the wheel.
The 50-year-old man had been stopped on Špitálska Street near the regional police headquarters for ignoring traffic signs. When police saw the driver was intoxicated they asked him to do an alcohol test, which he refused. The man then rolled up the car windows, started honking and revving the engine.
The helpless patrol then called their colleagues to help put clamps on the car. The driver, however, did not seem to like the look of the clamps, first almost running down two officers, then hitting a police car before driving away towards SNP Square. He braked and stopped just before hitting a police barrier which had been erected on the square.
Police again tried to clamp the car, but the man locked the doors and refused to get out. The Slovak press agency Sita reported that the man was still sitting in his car at 06:00.
The media later reported that the Englishman was taken into custody.


Levoča
Traditional pilgrimage draws top state officials


INTERIOR MINISTER Šimko (left) and Dzurinda pray.
photo: TASR

AN ESTIMATED 600,000 pilgrims, including Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, visited a traditional two-day annual pilgrimage in eastern Slovakia's Levoča last weekend.
The pilgrimage ended with a mass held by papal nuncio Henryk Jozef Nowacki on July 7.
Nowacki emphasized the importance of respect for maternity and life in general, and appealed to Catholic parents not to forget that parenthood was not only a contract between two partners, but also a life-giving union.
In response to the recent European Parliament resolution calling for member states to accept women's rights to legal abortions, Nowacki said: "The right to life is not an issue of the belief or standpoint of a church, it is the basic right of a human being."
The pilgrims also sent a telegram to Pope John Paul II, who celebrated a mass here seven years ago.
Dzurinda's party colleague and Interior Minister Ivan Šimko also participated in the pilgrimage, as did the chairman of the Christian Democrats, Pavol Hrušovský.


Veľká Fatra
Forest guards on alarm as berry picking season starts

FOREST protection authorities are on high alert after crowds of locals, particularly in the country's mountainous areas, started flooding even protected areas to pick wild berries.
Slovaks traditionally visit forests and pick raspberries, blueberries and cranberries to take home and preserve.
Ján Kadlečík, head of the Veľká Fatra National Park, said the season was traditionally a difficult one, not only because people tended to destroy large areas of forest and meadows in their search for berries, but also because they took food away from wild animals such as bears, which feed on the berries.
The country's laws allows berries and herbs to be picked "for personal use only". However, no definition of the amount represented by the vague term exists, Kadlečík remarked.
Because of their limited budgets, national park authorities often cannot afford enough employees to oversee visitor behavior in the forests. Kadlečík said his park only had one professional guard, with the majority of employees being volunteers.


Zvolen
Python on the loose scares flat tenants

THE INHABITANTS of one of the city's housing estates were shocked to spot a 3.5-metre python near the entrance door to the building.
After the police were alerted it was discovered that the snake belonged to one of the building's inhabitants, and that the restless python had simply sneaked out of the flat. The owner only noticed his snake was missing when neighbours asked him whether his pet was safe at home.


Michalovce
Brainless baby dies after two days

A BABY born without a brain in Michalovce hospital died two days after coming into the world.
The hospital's medical staff said that the baby had a genetic disorder due to what they called the irresponsibility of the 17-year-old mother, who had refused to attend regular check-ups during the pregnancy.
Although at birth the baby weighed 3.1 kilograms and was 50 centimetres tall with a normally developed frontal area of the head, the rear of the head was simply missing, and doctors said they had had no hope of saving the new-born.


Smižany
Farm forms vigilante patrol to guard potatoes

A COOPERATIVE farm in the eastern Slovak town of Smižany has set up a patrol to guard its potato crop after a group of thieves attacked a nearby farm.
The patrol, consisting of farmers, hunters and police, aims to prevent crop losses which farmers across Slovakia suffer every year.
In recent years farmers have complained that local Roma have devastated their crops by stealing potatoes. The complaints later moved independent MP Robert Fico to push a 'farmers' law' through the legislature calling for stiffer penalties for minor thefts. Farmers say, however, that the law has not helped prevent the crop losses.

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