Cigarette smugglers sentenced after 11-year trial
FOLLOWING a trial of record length, a court sent a group of cigarette smugglers to jail for seven and a half years. Two of the gang did not live to hear the sentence.
The thieves were arrested at the end of 1992 after stealing two trucks loaded with cigarettes worth Sk37 million (€88,100) from a storage space on a farm belonging to the Kajal firm in the southern Slovak district of Galanta.
The ring involved 10 culprits. Two men have died in the meantime, one former officer that was part of the gang went missing, and one of the gang's leaders is in a psychiatric clinic, the Slovak daily SME wrote.
It is not known why the court trial took so long, but the case reinforces the argument that court delays are one of the biggest problems in Slovakia's judiciary.
One of the reasons for the relatively short sentence, explained the judicial senate of the district court in the central Slovak town of Banská Bystrica, was the excessive time of the sentence's delivery. However, all culprits were sentenced to pay the damages they caused, which exceeded Sk40 million (€952,000).
The sentence has not taken effect yet, and the convicts can still appeal the verdict.
The group planned the robbery for New Year's Eve. Two of the organisers, one of whom worked at the Kajal farm, collected the information needed to carry out the crime. They also hired bodyguards and several drivers for themselves, and contacted local smugglers.
The two bodyguards first tied up three guards who were on service at the farm, taped their mouths, and locked them into a doorman's booth. Once the guards were taken care of, the two other culprits and the drivers arrived and drove away with the trucks. The cigarettes were handed over to the smugglers.
The man who worked in Kajal and provided the gang with the information that enabled the crime cashed in at Sk1 million (€23,800).
Homeless man dies after doctors refuse help
A HOMELESS man died after doctors in the western Slovak town of Trnava refused to help him.
The man, referred to only as Cyril K., was found in the street on Monday, October 13 in an unhealthy condition. Police called an ambulance for him but one day later they found the man crawling near the hospital, as he could not walk.
Officers then involved the local social affairs clerks, who were told to make sure that the man was properly checked into the hospital. On Wednesday, October 15, the social workers found the man still sitting in the hospital's waiting room while local doctors were discussing who would treat him, according to the Slovak daily SME.
Cyril K. was then taken to a local homeless shelter, where the employees found that his condition was critical. They drove him to the hospital, where he waited from 11 a.m. until the evening for an examination. The doctor he saw, however, stated that Cyril K. did not require hospitalisation.
Cyril K. died the next morning. Police are investigating the case under possible charges of refusing to help resulting in death.
The Trnava hospital's deputy chairwoman, Anna Šlabíková, said that she would look into the circumstances that resulted in the tragedy.
Hungry roes eat grave flowers
ADMINISTRATORS of an urn field in Bratislava's crematorium are helpless to stop hungry roes destroying the flower decorations at local graves.
The roes come to the urn field from a nearby forest. The fence protecting the area was damaged some time ago, said Miroslav Hrádek, head of the Mariannum burial service.
A new fence is already being raised, but the work is progressing slowly due to the difficult terrain in the area.
One man who did not wish to be named told Nový Čas daily, however, that it was not just hungry animals that caused grave flowers to disappear. He said he had seen several people stealing the flowers.
"They mainly steal artificial flowers but also the living plants," he said.
Greenpeace takes protest to Carrefour
DERMACOL sells "illegally risky cosmetics" containing banned mixtures, says Greenpeace.
ACTIVIST group Greenpeace took its protest against cosmetics products that include banned mixtures right into the Carrefour retail shop in Bratislava's Petržalka.
About a dozen Slovak Greenpeace members filed criminal charges against Carrefour. Later, several more Greenpeace activists gathered in the Polus shopping mall and protested the continued sale of Dermacol skin care products that include an illegal allergenic component.
According to Greenpeace's Martin Hojsík, Dermacol's "sun block lotions represent a risk to citizens' health. The country's main hygiene authority banned their sale on September 22."
The supermarket's security guards initially tried to drag the Greenpeace crew out of the shop. When state police arrived, the conflict was resolved peacefully.
Neo-Nazis attack woman for lighting Roma's smoke
UNKNOWN neo-Nazis beat a young woman and cut her face after she lit a cigarette for a Roma man in the street.
The 23-year-old victim is named Mirka; her last name was not revealed.
Shortly after she offered a light to the Roma man, two Nazis followed her and shouted racist and vulgar comments at her. Later, Mirka said: "One of them started to strangle me from the back with a scarf.
"The other [attacker] put a knife on my face. They said that they would kill me if I started screaming."
The Nazis hit her in the face several times and then asked her if she would " be so stupid as to light a cigarette for a Gypsy again".
Mirka reported the case to police and was treated in a hospital.
Police have started investigations based on Mirka's testimony, Bratislava police spokesperson Marta Bujňáková said.
Three on pavement hit by car
A CAR that slid off the road to avoid a car accident hit three pedestrians.
Marta Bujňáková, Bratislava police spokeswoman, said that the accident took place on October 15 in central Bratislava. Of the three victims, two were pensioners.
A driver slid off the road to avoid running into a vehicle ahead of him that unexpectedly stopped. The driver, however, did not realise that three people were on the pavement and ran at full speed into the victims.
The two retired people suffered serious injuries and the third victim, a woman whose age was not revealed, suffered injuries to her legs. All three victims were hospitalised.
Building collapses at high noon
BEST to stay outdoors when taking an English language course in Košice.
HALF of a two-storey office building in the centre of the eastern Slovak town of Košice collapsed at high noon, but no one was harmed.
The accident took place on October 14, shortly after the 17 people working in the building heard cracking noises. Police and local firemen managed to evacuate all people from the building in time.
An executor's office and a language school were based in the building. Firemen rescued 17 people from two floors.
Police are examining the accident and it is believed that excavation works for a new building next door, which started the same day, could have undermined the foundations of the collapsed building.
The owner of the collapsed building, Ján Borovský, said he believed that construction rules were ignored during the excavation works, which exposed the foundation of his building and led to its collapse.
Deer horn seating
A FARMING engineer and qualified health assistant now earns his living by making unique chairs from deer horns.
Marián Ťahúň, from the central Slovak town of Kremnica, now lives in the southeastern village of Betliar, where he started his unusual production two years ago.
Ťahúň said to the Slovak daily Nový Čas that he needed about 10 to 12 horns for one chair, and when he started producing the seats it took him about a week to make one piece.
For a common Slovak, however, the horn chairs may seem rather expensive - about Sk50,000 (€1,200) a piece.
Coroner overlooks bullet wounds
A DOCTOR who was called to the scene where a dead man's body was found did not notice bullet wounds in the corpse's skull and back. It was only later in a state hospital in Nitra that a pathologist discovered the bullets.
Police started to investigate the death of Milan W., 54, from the village of Pukanec in western Slovakia immediately after his friend found the corpse in Milan W.'s house.
But police now have to start anew, said the police spokesperson from the Nitra regional police headquarters, Iveta Matejová.
When Milan W. was found, he was lying on his back and the doctor failed to spot the 5.6 mm calibre wounds.
Man abuses child
A 72-YEAR-OLD man was arrested and charged with sexual abuse of a seven-year-old girl.
Trenčín police spokesperson Lenka Bušová said that a man, not named, from a village in the southern Slovak Ilava district harassed the girl, who was one of two siblings of the man's landlady.
On October 21, the drunken perpetrator started touching and kissing the girl. When she started shouting, her small brother alarmed his mother, who then called the police.
27. Oct 2003 at 0:00