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Around Slovakia

Slovak kickboxers sentenced in Vienna
Suspect couple sent to Austria
Hockey legend returns home
Mobster targeted at restaurant
Illegal amphibian discovery
Free diving champ
Rat alert

Slovakia-Austria
Slovak kickboxers sentenced in Vienna

A COURT in Vienna last week sentenced three Slovak kickboxers to prison terms of between five and nine years, after finding them guilty of robbing 23 petrol stations and betting shops in Austria.
One of the convicted robbers is Ladislav I, a 24-year-old national kickboxing champion from Prievidza, who was sentenced to nine years in prison. Also sentenced were Ľubomír K, to eight years, and Marek P, to five years.
Defence lawyers had argued for lighter penalties on the grounds that the accused were only small players in an international crime gang, according to the TASR news agency.


Slovakia-Austria
Suspect couple sent to Austria

IN AN unprecedented move, Slovakia has extradited two Slovak nationals to another country for criminal prosecution.
Justice Ministry spokesperson Richard Fides confirmed December 3 that a couple suspected of homicide and robbery were extradited to Austria and handed over to local law enforcement authorities on the basis of a European warrant issued December 1.
According to the SITA news agency, the Viennese District Court asked for their extradition and the Trenčín District Court complied with the request. The suspects appealed against this decision but the Slovak Supreme Court rejected it.
The married couple, from Slovakia's northwestern district of Považská Bystrica, is suspected of taking part in the robbery and killing of two people - a Slovak university student (22) and her Austrian friend (75), in Vienna in mid-June.
On August 10, 2004, Trenčín police arrested the accused in Slovakia.



TOUGH player - Slovak-born hockey legend, Stan Mikita, visited his homeland.
photo: TASR


Bratislava
Hockey legend returns home

PRESIDENT Ivan Gašparovič met legendary Slovak-Canadian ice-hockey player Stan Mikita, 64, and his wife Jill December 2, in Bratislava.
Gašparovič awarded Mikita the state honour of White double-cross, second class, the TASR news agency wrote.
The President, who is a big sports fan, especially of ice hockey, said he greatly appreciated Mikita's NHL performances. Mikita played with the Chicago Blackhawks between 1958 and 1979 and won the Stanley Cup with the 'Hawks in 1961.
Mikita was born in Sokolce, in the Nitra region, in 1940, but he moved to Ontario, Canada, as a young boy to live with his uncle and aunt in St Catharines, Ontario. Today, with the help of his four children, he runs a plastics and packaging business in Chicago.
He played centre and won many competitions during his career, including the Hart Trophy, which he won twice, the Art Ross Memorial Trophy, four times, and the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, twice.
Upon his retirement he had the second most NHL points after Gordie Howe and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, and into the Slovak Hall of Fame earlier this year.
Gašparovič and Mikita, who still speaks Slovak, chatted about the future of Slovak ice hockey, its successes as well as the problems in training young talent.
Summing up his hockey beginnings in Chicago, Illinois, Mikita, who was known for his tough game, told the Slovak daily Nový Čas, "I wanted to play hockey for any price. In Chicago there were even more talented guys than me but they wouldn't work so hard. I was not afraid.
"Once I asked one of the senior players in our team, who used to get into many fights, about his way of playing. He said to me 'Boy, you should always hit first. It doesn't mean that you will win but you will have the chance'," Mikita said.


Bratislava
Mobster targeted at restaurant

ALLEGED mobster Ivo Ružič was fighting for his life after being targeted by a bomb at the Jadran restaurant, Bratislava December 2, wrote the daily Pravda. The explosion also injured his unnamed companion.
According to police Ružič is the alleged boss of the underworld gang known as the Takáčs.
The blast shook Bratislava's Ružinov district shortly after noon, destroying one wall of the well-known restaurant. Shock waves smashed windows in the school next door and in cars parked outside.
Bratislava police chief Ľudovít Miháľ confirmed that an explosive charge had been planted inside the restaurant but would not reveal any further details.
Miháľ also told the press that apart from Ružič and his companion, another man had been injured in the blast.
The Jadran restaurant has had a turbulent history. According to the TASR news agency, on March 8, 2001, a 33-year-old citizen of the former Yugoslavia blew himself up while attempting to plant a grenade there.
In March 2000, a group of around 20 young men stormed the restaurant with baseball bats and caused extensive damage to property. Police believe the two attacks were part of an underworld debt feud.
Part of the Jadran complex was allegedly under the control of a group of Kosovar Albanians, while owners of the other part were the Takáčs.


Bratislava
Illegal amphibian discovery

POLICE discovered amphibians illegally held in the basement of a private house in Bratislava's Vajnory district. The collection is believed to be worth Sk8 million (€200,000).
"This is the biggest case of illegal possession of endangered species in Slovakia so far," Mário Kern, of Police Headquarters in Bratislava, told the SME daily.
The amphibians, including turtles, various snakes and leguans, were kept in terrible conditions. Dozens of them were found to be either dead or dying.
"This case confirms that Slovakia needs strict laws on animals. This was not a hobby [breeding of pets] but a business," said animal crime expert Marek Brinzík. The total of 210 exotic turtles, eight leguans, and two snakes that were found alive in the house have been placed in a specialist centre in the western Slovak town of Bojnice, where experts are now checking their health.
"The future of the animals will depend on the outcome of the trial of their owner," said Eva Bartošová, who works for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) of Wild Fauna and Flora.
"If the origin and legality of their import [to Slovakia] is not proven, the precious animals will become the property of the state. If the origin of the animals is proven, they will probably go back to their home country. We think that they came from Madagascar," she said.



TAKING a dive - Juraj Karpiš of Žilina can stay under water for six minutes.
photo: Courtesy of Žilinské noviny


Žilina
Free diving champ

JURAJ KARPIŠ of Žilina is able to stay under water for as long as six minutes with just one breath. The extreme diver is the Slovak champion in free diving.
In an interview with the Žilinské noviny weekly, Karpiš explained that there are two basic disciplines in free diving - the so called static apnoea which is done in a pool, and in which the competitor lies face down on the water's surface without breathing for as long as possible.
"The second discipline is dynamic apnoea, which is depth diving with just one breath," he said.
The world record in the static apnoea is currently 8 minutes and 23 seconds.
Karpiš does both the static and dynamic apnoea but says he prefers the latter. "It takes place in open waters and it is both psychologically and physically more demanding," Karpiš said.
The world record holder for depth diving is Venezuelan Carlos Coste who swam to a depth of 90 metres.
"I achieved my best performance in this discipline, 61.9 metres, on May 26 of this year in Croatia," said Karpiš.
Apart from physical preparation for performance, Karpiš said that quality sleep and a special diet were essential.


Banská Štiavnica
Rat alert

SEVERAL areas of the central Slovak town of Banská Štiavnica have registered an increased number of rats and the town is preparing extensive anti-rat measures.
"We do not consider the situation to be critical yet but we want to prevent excessive breeding," Nadežda Babjaková, head of the Banská Štiavnica town hall told the daily SME.
Vladimír Slezák, who monitored rats in the town, said that in some areas excessive breeding might already have been established.
Slezák added that seeing rats during daylight hours serves as a warning of an excessive rat population. Rats usually take up house in abandoned buildings.

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