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Around Slovakia

Giant wreath competes for world record
Top cop issued fake parking cards
Killer grenades still found buried in ground
Life and death of a knight and his maiden
School roof falls, buries pupil


2004 PLASTIC flowers adorn a wreath to celebrate the national uprising's 60th anniversary in 2004.
photo: TASR

Banská Bystrica
Giant wreath competes for world record

MICHAL Hangya from the southern Slovak village of Čata has made a giant wreath consisting of 2,004 red plastic flowers. He dedicated it to the city of Banská Bystrica where three-day celebrations were held to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944.
According to the daily Nový Čas, Hangya made the wreath himself and submitted a bid to have it recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest handmade wreath in the world.
"The reply [from the Guinness Book] will come in three months, but I know that I will win because nowhere in the world has a similar wreath ever been made," Hangya told the daily.
The wreath weighs two tonnes and is 10 metres in diameter.
Hangya worked on it for 12 hours and called it the Wreath of Love.
"It should help unite all nations, that's why I used love [in the name]," Hangya said.
When asked why he used 2,004 flowers he said it symbolised the year of the celebration.


Banská Bystrica
Top cop issued fake parking cards

THE CHIEF of the Banská Bystrica city police, František Vaškovič, issued at least 55 fake parking cards to local police officers, ignoring local directives regarding free parking licenses, the SME daily wrote.
The city's main inspector, Zdenko Haring, revealed the breach. Local MPs want the top cop removed from his post.
The mayor of Banská Bystrica, Ján Králik, said that he could not fire the police officer.
"I can't recall him because, according to lawyers, what he did qualifies as a minor breach of work discipline. He could only be given notice if he was warned in writing in the past six months of [another] breach of work discipline. That has not happened because there has been no reason for that so far," said Králik.
Vaškovič will certainly receive a warning for the fake parking cards, the mayor added. He also said that he would ask the police chief to consider resigning. Králik already called on Vaškovič to consider resigning in May when Vaškovič, then off duty, suffered injuries in a self-infliced accident while drunk.
At that time, Vaškovič initially claimed that unknown perpetrators attacked him but it turned out that he fell from a staircase by himself.
Later he defended himself saying that he fell because he took medical drugs regularly, and that he lost balance as a result of them and therefore he did not accept the mayor's call.
Králik does not plan to submit a motion to the attorney's office over the fake parking cards. Such a motion could lead to an investigation of whether Vaškovič committed the crime of abusing the powers of public office. The chief police officer is not entitled to issue such cards. Despite that, Vaškovič issued five such cards to the Slovak Intelligence Service with the mayor's approval, and then issued at least 50 more to his employees.
The card enables its holders to use parking lots for free.
Vaškovič later announced the cards invalid and withdrew some, though several are still unreturned.


Orava region
Killer grenades still found buried in ground

THE ORAVA, Kysuce, and Liptov regions belong among the areas with the highest density of buried military ammunition from the time of the world wars.
Most recently, such ammunition killed a 37-year-old man from Pribilina, the SME daily wrote. The explosion of an old grenade took place in the central Slovak village of Žiar in the Liptovský Mikuláš district.
Igor Mahút, Žilina deputy police spokesperson, told SME that technicians called to the scene found that an RG 34 grenade used in World War II caused the explosion.
"Real life has shown that even almost 60 years after World War II, old ammunition can be found lying exposed in the wild, buried in the ground, or, as in this case, during the reconstruction of an old building," said Mahút.
"Most of the ammunition is still functional and the danger of explosion is high because old ammunition is corroded. Even the slightest movement can activate the trigger mechanism. We repeatedly warn people not to touch explosives if they make such a find because it is life-threatening," he said.
In the Žilina region alone, special bomb technicians have liquidated 23 cases of old ammunition since the beginning of this year.


Veľká nad Ipľom
Life and death of a knight and his maiden

THE CEMETERY of Veľká nad Ipľom village, close to the Slovak-Hungarian border, hides the tomb of knight Viliam Mertens and his wife, the countess Františka Forgách.
The daily SME reported that Ján Rideg, a local history enthusiast, decided to track the history of the well-known couple.
"The knight and his wife lived in the 19th century, which seemingly is not so long ago. Despite that, there are very few materials documenting this couple. I therefore turned to Marta Herucová from the Slovak Academy of Sciences Art Institute, who started a complicated search," Rideg said.
Herucová revealed many aspects of Mertens' life, but many will probably remain a mystery forever.
The coat of arms that is on the tomb shows a lion with wings and an eagle's head. Above the shield there is a jewel with two helmets. The inscription on the grave states that the person buried there was a man of the gentry named Field Marshal Mertens. It is believed that the surname Mertens comes from the Netherlands. But signs on the coat of arms suggest that the knight buried in Veľká nad Ipľom came from German roots.
Rideg has started to tend for the tomb and believes that the famous couple can attract many visitors to the village. Apart from Mertens' grave, there is also a million-year-old fossil on one tombstone that Rideg also hopes will attract visitors.



AN ABANDONED school collapsed on Lukáš, leaving him hospitalised.
photo: SME - Judita Čermáková

Košice
School roof falls, buries pupil

AN OLD SCHOOL building, no longer in use, caused a near tragedy when its roof and walls collapsed on a 15-year-old boy named Lukáš.
According to the Slovak daily SME, the accident took place on August 20. Lukáš was taken to a hospital and was kept in an induced coma.
Many locals had warned the local authorities that the crumbling building was dangerous, and some even blame the mayor of the Košice district of Myslava for Lukáš's injuries.
"The old shanty should have been pulled down a long time ago. It is dangerous. Everyone knew that but no one stopped access to the building. How do you stop children from going in?" said a mother of a boy who was playing at the site with Lukáš.
According to Peter Beluš, head of the anaesthesiology department with the Louis Pasteur hospital in Košice, the boy's condition was stabilised, but his injuries were serious.
Lukáš suffered lung injuries on both sides, and his femur and ribs are broken.
Lukáš's father told SME that he had filed a criminal complaint against the mayor because the authorities failed to block access to the old school site.
According to Deputy Mayor Ján Gabštúr, however, the authorities suspect that the walls fell after a "violent shock". A report from the statics experts obtained by the town hall prior to the accident stated that, "although the object had to be reconstructed because the roof construction was in danger of collapse, the stability of walls was not endangered."
He also said that the town hall had applied for a permit to tear down the building but that the respective office had not yet produced the permit.
"We also put bars at the entrance gates, but they were repeatedly removed," Gabštúr said.

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