Around Slovakia

Gang gets away with Sk20 million
Dogs help troubled children
Lottery millionaire shares fortune
Austrian charged with kidnapping baby
Ostrich farming helps drug addicts
Police break up people-smugglers

Gang gets away with Sk20 million

THIEVES stole Sk20 million (€520,000) from a security van in Poprad January 28, making it the biggest robbery in the history of the region.
The van, belonging to a security company from Poprad, was transporting the money from the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) branch to a VÚB bank branch in Poprad.
One of the thieves, dressed in a policeman's uniform, stopped the van. The other culprits, all wearing black uniforms labelled "Police" subsequently overwhelmed the driver, the TASR news agency wrote.
The security team inside the van was disarmed and the thieves got away with the money. Police started a nationwide hunt for the gang, but have not yet had any success in locating the gang or the money.

TINA, the dog, teaches little Tomáško tricks that strenghten his muscles.
photo: SME - Veronika Janušková

Dogs help troubled children

THREE-year-old Tomáško is receiving canine therapy for a syndrome that means he does not walk or sit up straight. He does not even feel pain and his psychological development is slow.
The canistherapy, as it is officially known, is in addition to physical therapy three times a week to ensure muscle growth. Tomáško also has to take growth hormones.
Doctors at Košice hospital children's ward think that playing with a dog will encourage the little boy to move, according to the daily SME. They say that interacting with dogs has already brought good results at other institutions.
And Tomáško, through playing with a dog by the name of Tina, is already showing some benefits. "Tina motivates Tomáško to move. The dog can even do various dance-like movements and the boy tries to imitate it. It is a form of play therapy. Already after two sessions he can hold objects in his hand, grab them and throw them away," said Tina's owner Dana Tóthová.
Canistherapy also brings good results with children who isolate themselves from others. Such a tendency is sometimes found in children who live in orphanages or medical institutions.
According to experts dogs can also help hyperactive children to learn how to relax in a natural way.

Lottery millionaire shares fortune

A MAN who collected Sk64.7 million (€1.7 million) in lottery winnings January 26 plans to donate part of his fortune to good causes.
The lucky winner of the Tipos lottery, from the eastern Slovak city of Košice, says he will donate Sk1 million (€25,800) to relief efforts in the recently devastated High Tatras.
The unnamed millionaire also plans to give a further Sk1 million to Bratislava's Oncological Institute and yet another million to victims of South Asia's devastating tsunami, according to the TASR news agency.
The new multimillionaire credits his wife with helping him choose the right numbers. After using the same numbers for two decades without success, he allowed his wife to make the predictions.
Her grateful husband has promised to take her on a seaside holiday because she has never been to the sea in her life.
According to TASR the generous winner wants to continue playing the lottery since he enjoys the game, especially the thrill of anticipation when the numbers are drawn.

Austrian charged with kidnapping baby

POLICE have charged a 37-year-old Austrian man with kidnapping a five-month old baby.
The Austrian visited his 23-year-old partner in Fiľakovo, near Lučenec in Southern Slovakia January 25. The partner lives in Austria but her permanent residence is in Fiľakovo.
Following an argument the man took the baby boy from his mother at around 18:00. The mother alerted the police who detained the man at the Slovak-Austrian border.
He was released from custody January 27 pending further investigation into the case.
The baby boy was returned to his mother unharmed.

CARING for ostriches teaches addicts to resist drugs.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

Pahorok v Bohuniciach
Ostrich farming helps drug addicts

A FACILITY for treating drug addicts in the southern Slovak village of Pahorok v Bohuniciach near Levice has started an ostrich farm.
The idea behind the initiative is to keep clients busy and possibly make a bit of money, according to the SME daily.
The ostriches are expected to start laying eggs next year.
"We will feed them and process them when they are 10 months old," said the head of the treatment centre Štefan Harcaj.
"We have had the ostriches since August 2004. In the mornings we give them hay and in the evenings they get grain packed with vitamins.
Our clients take turns in feeding the ostriches. Work with animals requires immediate action and it pushes thoughts of drugs out of their heads. The boys are happy about the ostriches, and the ostriches need the attention," he told the daily.
"We have respect for the ostriches," Peter, a 22-year-old client at the centre said, adding that when the birds get scared they even break the fence.
The former addicts come to Pahorok after some basic treatment in hospital. They are taught to resist hard drugs, according to SME.
The hardest phase of the minimum 16-month-long stay at the centre is the start. Many of the clients find it very difficult but for those who stay it signals the end of their addiction.
"Drugs ate up my whole monthly wage," said 26-year-old Laco from Bratislava, who has been in Pahorok for a year now. "I would steal electrical cables from the factory and then sell them. I was not surprised when they fired me. My mother knew I was doing drugs but my father did not want to see it in the beginning. He organized another job for me but I stole from there as well," he said.
Later, his father told him that he could not come home if he did not stop using drugs. So Laco left home and slept at a cottage together with other drug addicts.
"Conditions were terrible there. I was afraid to fall asleep because I thought that someone would kill me," he said.
He eventually sought help from his father who took him to hospital and later to the Pahorok centre.

Dunajská Streda
Police break up people-smugglers

POLICE in the southern Slovak town of Dunajská Streda arrested 18 people, including 12 Slovaks, in connection with a people-smuggling operation January 27.
According to the border police the gang has illegally funnelled at least 111 migrants through the country, TASR news agency reported.
The alleged head of the gang, an Indian based in Slovakia, was among those arrested.
Two gang-members, a Bang-ladeshi and a Pakistani, were apprehended in the asylum detention centre in Gabčíkovo.

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