A TWO-YEAR-OLD boy, Paľko Kapura, was hospitalised in a severe state of malnourishment after his grandmother took him to a doctor.
While children of his age usually weigh about 15 kilograms, according to doctors, Paľko weighed just over four kilos.
Paľko was not the first undernourished child to be treated in the eastern Slovak hospital in Trebišov, and local doctors said that recently the number of similar cases have been on the rise.
"[When Paľko was brought to the hospital] he was in a critical condition," said Dana Jurečková, head of the paediatrics ward at the Trebišov hospital to the Slovak daily SME.
"His granny brought him wrapped up in dirty rags; the boy was undernourished and cold. He only weighed slightly above four kilograms."
She also said that Paľko had been hospitalised in Trebišov before.
"The first time he was here was last November and during that stay in hospital, his condition improved considerably. This time, however, he was admitted in a significantly worse state," the doctor said. She added that the boy was in such a desolate state that he could not sit or walk.
Paľko is one of six children and, with his father in jail, his mother has to raise the children alone. Two years ago, Paľko's older sister was admitted to hospital with cuts and several fractures. According to social worker Svetlana Kertisová, the girl was later put into an orphanage and the conditions in the family gradually improved.
"The parents came to see her regularly and the conditions in the household also improved. We then agreed with the orphanage to return the child to her home," said Kertisová.
Now Paľko will be put into an orphanage.
The mother, Eleonóra Kapurová, said to the daily that she cared as well as she could for her children.
"I fed Paľko just like the other children, but he did not want to eat very much. His twin Romanko is better off, although he too is a tiny baby. I give them all that I have, but I don't have enough money to feed them because loan sharks take a lot of money from us," she said.
Kertisová said that in February alone, six children in her town were put into orphanages because many families faced similar problems. Loan sharking is widespread in the east of the country and it is mainly Roma families who fall victim to these criminals.
THIS truck's load of illegal smokes will not reach its customers.
Four million illegal smokes found in truck
CUSTOMS officers apprehended a truckload of more than four million illegal cigarettes in the eastern Slovak village of Hnojné, 20 kilometres off the Ukrainian border.
On the morning of March 9, customs officers stopped the truck driven by a 25-year-old man identified as Štefan M by the police.
"When officers asked him what was in the truck, he said that it was polystyrene," said Silvia Balázsiková, the spokeswoman for the Slovak Customs Directorate, to the SME daily.
"When checking the load, officers found a large number of cartons of cigarettes hidden behind a few panels of polystyrene," she said.
The truck was packed with 21,450 cartons of various cigarette brands. According to Balázsiková, the tax evasion on the load represented Sk10.6 million (€261,700).
The spokeswoman said that the bust was a result of a planned campaign against cigarette smugglers, run by customs officers along with the national unit fighting illegal migration. Last month the customs authorities seized more than 40,000 cartons of cigarettes that were smuggled to Slovakia from China.
Police are now checking how it was possible for the truck to pass customs controls. The spokeswoman said that if the investigation finds that their duties have been neglected, officers on the border could be fired from their jobs.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS discovered 3,500-year-old kitchenware during research work in the western Slovak city of Nitra.
The dishes were discovered on Mostná Street where a new multifunctional building is to be built.
The finding included jars, pots, and bowls from the Bronze Age that people used for cooking, drinking, and storing food.
"Among the splinters, we found eight complete jars. Findings in housing areas are rather unique; we usually make such discoveries in cemeteries," said Gertrúda Brězinová, head of the research team, to the Slovak daily SME.
The dishes will undergo detailed analysis and the archaeologists are hoping that the results of the tests will help them find out more about what plants had grown back then, what the climate was like, and in which season of the year the housing estate had been swamped.
It is already known that Nitra was an inhabited area in the Bronze Age, but most traces have been buried by medieval and modern constructions.
Also in the Mostná Street area, a well with Roman coins was discovered. In another dig in the area, remains of a settlement of smiths and craftsmen were also found.
A KID on a sledge passes the unique cellars used to store vegetables.
Spud cellars in the rock
THE EASTERN Slovak village of Liptovská Teplička in the Poprad district is known for its high number of unique cellars that are dug into the rock and where locals store potatoes.
The village registers 419 such cellars. The cellars are pear-shaped holes carved into the stone, and are 2.5 to 3.5 metres deep. Apart from potatoes, the locals also store vegetables in the holes. According to the state run news agency TASR, the village of 2,240 inhabitants is first mentioned in a written document that dates back to 1634, and which also mentions the unique cellars.
Stolen statue found mutilated
UNKNOWN perpetrators stole a statue of a mother holding a baby on March 7 that stood in front of a hospital in the western Slovak city of Hlohovec.
Only one day later, the statue was found cut into seven pieces near the Váh River.
The copper statue was 2.5 metres high and 1.2 metres wide and was hollow inside. According to the state run news agency TASR, the statue was destroyed to such an extent that it will not be possible to reconstruct it.
The perpetrators caused Sk200,000 (€5,000) in damages.
Village pub Ltd
IN ORDER to address the communal lack of finances, local MPs in the western Slovak village of Hurbanova Ves decided 11 years ago to start a community pub.
Since then the pub has brought in about Sk100,000 (€2,500) annually to the local treasury.
"The pub is 100 percent village-owned," mayor Ľubomír Petrák said to the private news agency SITA.
"Apart from the extra cash that the pub brings to the village of 250 inhabitants, the establishment also serves as a local youth centre where young people can play pool or table football."
22. Mar 2004 at 0:00