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Around Slovakia

Teenager shoots cab driver
No room for apartheid
Marshlands drying up
Flat full of trash
Operation Hawk

Košice
Teenager shoots cab driver

A FIFTEEN-year old fired two shots injuring a Košice taxi driver he owed money.
According to the SME daily, the youth first approached the cabbie on February 1 and asked how much it would cost to go to the nearby village of Valaliky. They agreed on a price of Sk400 (€10).
As they were driving along however, the boy said he had changed his mind and asked the driver to turn down a field road. The driver refused.
"I told him to get out and that I was not driving him any further," said the cab driver. When it came to paying, it turned out the youth had no money. In the end they agreed the youth would pay him later and they continued on the journey.
"We agreed but when I came to the place we agreed two youths were waiting there. The one who owed me money opened the door and pretended that he was taking out the money [from a wallet].
"That's when he shot me first in the face. I just thought this was my end. When I realized that I was still whole, I started to run and that's when the second shot was fired and hit me in the arm," he said.
"It was not a short circuit reaction, he clearly wanted to kill me," the unnamed cab driver said.
"I think he wanted to kill me because of the debt. If he wanted my takings he would have shouted at me to give him the money," he said.
Police later arrested the youth.


Pozdišovce
No room for apartheid

ROMA children from the elementary school in Pozdišovce in East Slovakia's Michalovce district now eat their lunches together with non-Roma pupils, reported the daily SME.
The school has abandoned its practice of making children eat separately according to ethnicity after the case was publicized in a local newspaper, Korzár.
The non-Roma kids ate their lunch first, then the Roma pupils.
"They told us that there was not enough space [in the canteen] and that is why we had to eat separately," said one Roma pupil.
The local school has just 40 pupils, of which 12 are Roma.
Local mayor Ján Čižmárik is alleged to have issued the order for the children to dine separately.
The school principal Gabriela Šándorová admitted that the children had been separated for lunch sittings according to ethnicity.
"Yes it is true, but I have no more to say on that. Ask the mayor. During classes we don't segregate children into Roma and non-Roma. All learn together and spend breaks together," she told SME.
Mayor Čižmárik denied the allegation that he ordered the children to be segregated along ethnic lines. He told Korzár February 1, "I ordered that children go to the canteen in two groups only because it's a small space," he said.
One Roma father said he was surprised and angry when his sons told him that there was segregation in the school canteen.
"The children told me about being separated just this Monday [January 31] when I was told that the press was interested in them. We had no idea at home that they were segregated during lunch. I went to the mayor immediately asking for an explanation. He said the canteen is too small," said Miroslav Menda, Roma father of two of the pupils.
"Our children are no worse than the others. If they can be together during lessons, I don't see any reason why they can't have lunch together," added another Roma parent, Dorota Himaľová.
The segregation policy was changed on February 2.
"The whole school was at lunch as one, not in groups. If we have enough room, they will always have lunch together," said principal Šandorová.
The mayor was not available for comment, SME reported.


Gbelce
Marshlands drying up

THE SO-CALLED Parisian marshlands [Parížske močiare], situated between the villages of Gbelce and Nová Vieska near Štúrovo in southern Slovakia, are drying up.
The marshlands, which are Slovakia's second largest unbroken marsh area, are home to more than 100 types of water birds, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the country, the daily SME wrote.
Two centuries ago the marshlands consisted of around 150 hectares of water, but the area has now shrunk to less than 10 hectares and the remaining land is covered with rushes.
The marshlands are of international importance and Slovakia pledged to protect them 15 years ago by signing the Ramsar Convention.
Two projects have been prepared which could save the Parisian marshlands.
Peter Muránsky from the local protected area administration authority told SME: "The first one is based on dredging the bed sediments, which would deepen the marsh. This project is financially demanding.
"The second project would involve cutting down the rushes below water level. That is physically demanding, but the cut stalks would decompose and new ones would not grow," he said.
Once a decision is made as to which project is more suitable, the Environment Ministry must decide whether to release the necessary funds.
A grant from the European Union is also a possibility.


Prievidza
Flat full of trash

A SANITATION squad found six large-capacity containers filled with trash in a flat in Prievidza.
The workers from the town's maintenance service had to wear facemasks because of the excessive smell.
The flat belongs to a 58-year-old unemployed man who lives there with his 92-year-old mother. The two live in the flat without electricity, hot water or heating.
According to the TASR news agency, the man collected the waste from local trash containers. Neighbours started complaining about the smell spreading from the flat. They had also spotted several rodents in their apartment block.
Eventually they went to court and a clean-up was ordered.


Banská Bystrica
Operation Hawk

A HAWK that got trapped on the roof of Banská Bystrica district court was freed by local firefighters February 4.
The SITA news agency reported that the hawk got trapped in the lightning conductor with its thongs and remained hanging head down.
The firefighters could not reach the bird from an extension platform so they had to use special mountaineering tools to reach the bird via the building's attic.
A part of the roof had to be dismantled as well.
Firefighters cut out a part of the lightning conductor where the hawk was hanging and then freed the bird.
Oto Hudec, who led the unusual operation, said that it took his team two hours to set the hawk free.

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