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Around Slovakia

Unhealthy return for "Blessed spring"
Bank raiders getaway halted
Fake cheque cabbie nabbed
Too many trucks spoil the stay
Three-in-one for first time mum
Children hit by car


GENERAL director of the Piešťany spa points to the damanged parts of Mucha's painting.
photo: TASR

Piešťany
Unhealthy return for "Blessed spring"

A PAINTING that was stolen from the walls of a hotel in the Slovak spa town of Piešťany was returned to its rightful owners January 21.
The painting, by Czech art nouveau artist Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) and entitled Be Greeted the Blessed Spring of Health, suffered visible damage since its theft.
Milan Krámarik, director of the Piešťany spa, collected the valuable work from the Czech police in Plzeň, the TASR news agency wrote.
The painting was stolen on October 19, 2000, from the Thermia Palace Hotel in Piešťany. A thief used a knife to cut the work from its frame and carried it out of the building.
Czech police recovered the painting, worth Sk3 million (€77,520), while someone was attempting to sell it to an Austrian citizen.
The colour of the upper part of the painting has been obliterated, damage is also apparent in several other places. "We want to ask the specialists and restorers from the Slovak National Gallery and the University of Design Arts to appraise the extent of the damage as soon as possible. We'll decide what to do next, depending on their suggestions," said Kramárik.
The intention of the spa headquarters is to return the artwork to the wall in the dining room of the Thermia Palace hotel in May 2006, when the hotel will be re-opened after reconstruction.
At that time, Thermia will be equipped with a modern security system and this should stop further incidents of theft. The painting will be kept in the treasury of the security service of Piešťany spa until 2006.
Mucha composed Be Greeted the Blessed Spring of Health in 1913. It is a spa scene in which a young girl in a wheelchair is featured. The girl was Mucha's sick daughter, who was being treated at Piešťany.
Mucha donated the painting to a former tenant of the spa, Alexander Winter.


Košice
Bank raiders getaway halted

POLICE took less than two hours to arrest the perpetrators of a bank robbery at the Slovenská sporiteľňa bank branch on Cottbuska Street in the eastern Slovak city of Košice January 19, a spokesperson for the regional police force said.
Investigators have already charged two men, aged 23 and 27, with the robbery. If convicted, the culprits face five to 12 years in prison, the TASR news agency wrote.
Entering the bank at about 10:00, a masked robber pointed a gun at clientele while going behind a counter to steal Sk268,400 (€7,000) from the bank teller's cash register. His accomplice was waiting outside in a Mercedes ready to get away quick.
They got away, but to no avail.


Košice
Fake cheque cabbie nabbed

A CAB driver from Košice tried to cash a fake cheque for Sk3 million (€77,500), reported the daily SME.
The 45-year-old unnamed cab driver comes from the nearby town of Kráľovský Chlmec. According to the daily, on January 14 he entered the Všeobecná úverová banka (VÚB) and handed the bank teller the cheque. It was signed and made out for Sk3 million.
The cabbie said that the cheque had been paid him by an unnamed firm in Zemplínska Teplica. However, a review of the details confirmed that no such sum was transferred that day and that nobody from the company had made a cheque out for such a sum on that day.
The police have charged the cabbie with attempted fraud.



FOR LEHOTSKÝ, whose hostel is just off the road, the noise and smell from trucks are unbearable.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

Staré Hory
Too many trucks spoil the stay

VLADIMÍR Lehotský, the owner of a hostel in Staré Hory in Central Slovakia, decided to do something about the number of trucks that drive through the Donovaly mountain pass: he campaigned for tougher traffic rules in the village, including a lower speed limit and better road signs.
"The noise and the smell from hundreds of heavy trucks passing through Staré Hory is no longer bearable," Lehotský told SME.
After months of trying he put together a petition with more than 300 signatures. He has had plenty of meetings with bureaucrats, though as yet with no result, according to the daily SME.
Lehotský's house stands just centimetres from the main road.
Initially, he asked the Slovak road administration authority (SSC) for permission to build a noise barrier, even offering to pay for it himself. However, his request was rejected.
He then turned to the Banská Bystrica police for help. But they said they could not and advised the distraught hostel owner to consult the transportation department of the local regional office (KÚ).
Lehotský sent a complaint to the KÚ, which 40 of his fellow inhabitants from Staré Hory also signed.
The bureaucrats, however, forwarded the complaint to the police, closing the viscious circle. Police insist that they are not authorized to exclude trucks from the area.
The hostel owner then turned to lawyers for advice who told him he might try to get expert advice to back up his complaints. So Lehotský asked the regional public health authority to measure the noise and vibration level outside his house caused by heavy traffic.
The measurements showed that the noise is far above tolerated levels.
According to a traffic census in 2000, an average of 1,240 trucks and 5,500 cars pass through the village per day.
This year that number has risen to around 1,600. According to an official estimate, it will grow to more than 2,000 in the next five years. This means that one truck per minute will pass through the village.
Lehotský is not giving up his fight against the trucks. He now plans to send a petition to the Transport Ministry.


Poprad
Three-in-one for first time mum

A woman from the village of Gerlachov near Poprad has given birth to triplets. First-time mother Jana Enekešová, 28, had the three little babies - two girls, Ema and Daniela, and a boy, Jakub - on January 21.
According to the SME daily, the triplets were born by caesarian section and weighed around two kilogrammes each. They are now in an incubator.
Mother Enekešová is also a twin.
When the young parents were informed of their triple joy to come, Poprad Mayor Anton Danko promised to give the babies a pram each, and even said that the city would help out with housing for the family if necessary.


Plevník
Children hit by car

A DRIVER hit three children January 16 as they were walking through the village of Plevník in Western Slovakia.
According to police, the 53-year-old motorist was not paying due care and attention and hit the children as they were walking down the road in the same direction as he was driving.
A 13-year-old girl was seriously injured, while her 11-year-old sister and a 13-year-old friend suffered only slight injuries.
According to Trenčín regional police spokeswoman Katarína Hlaváčová, a breath test showed no signs of alcohol consumption. Police are now trying to determine to what extent the driver is responsible for the accident.

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