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WITH 24 goals and 48 points, Slovak Marek Mintál has become the top scorer in the German national soccer league. Mintál, who plays for FC Nürnberg, confirmed the position on May 21, after beating Dutch striker Roy Makaay of Bayern Munich. For his achievement, he received a trophy in the shape of a miniature canon. On the European scale, Mintál is tied for second position with Samuel Eto'o of FC Barcelona who still has a chance to beat the European league's top scorer, Thierry Henry of Arsenal London. Henry leads with 50 points for 25 goals. The 27-year-old native of Bytčica, near the northwestern Slovak town of Žilina, is the object of interest for several leading European soccer clubs. His contract with Nürnberg runs until 2008.
photo: SME - Pavol Majer

Liptovský Mikuláš
Boy stuck in teddy machine

ON MAY 16 shortly after noon, firefighters from the Liptovský Mikuláš station were called to save a two-and-a-half-year-old toddler who got stuck in a slot machine full of teddy bears and similar toys.
According to the SITA news agency, the adventurous youngster was accompanying his grandmother on a shopping trip at the local Hypernova shopping centre. While his granny's attention was diverted the toddler crawled through an opening at the bottom of the machine. Unfortunately for the curious child, the door closed on him as he crawled in and he was stuck.
The firefighters managed to free the boy without much fuss. The boy did not suffer any injuries.


Kežmarok
Search on for castle's secrets

MUSEUM employees from Kežmarok are looking for a secret corridor and even a treasure chest supposedly left by a former owner, the SITA news agency reported May 1.
Legend has it that former owner Imrich Thököly hid the treasure in the secret corridor. According to the legend the secret corridor connects Kežmarok castle with a manor house in nearby village of Strážky.
Nora Baráthová, an historian with the Kežmarok Museum, thinks that it is more likely, however, that the corridor ends somewhere just beyond the castle walls. Until now, however, all efforts to locate the secret corridor have failed.
The museum employees plan to invite cavers to help them in their search. The search will begin in the castle chapel where some of the former castle owners are buried.
Baráthová thinks that if the secret hallway is discovered it could turn the castle into more of a tourist attraction. Last year 43,500 people visited the Kežmarok castle.
The local museum has prepared several events for tourists this year. At the end of May and the beginning of June children will be able to see a staged performance called The Fairy Tale of a Sworn Castle, which will also include a tour of the castle.
During a traditional crafts event another theatre piece, entitled Bloody History II will be performed at night. The piece was also staged last year, but this year it should be even scarier, SITA reported. The level of suspense has been increased at the request of last year's visitors.
Ahead of the summer tourist season the museum will re-install the individual expositions at the castle, including the most popular one - the presentation of old crafts and guilds.
Other presentations include a presentation about the role of Kežmarok residents in exploring the High Tatras in the 16th and 17th centuries.


Banská Štiavnica
Poisoned dogs not eating

EIGHT dogs that were given rat poison by an unknown assailant are now in the city animal shelter.
Despite being rescued the animals are still refusing to eat.
According to the SME daily most of the dogs are still having problems, although some time has already passed since they were poisoned.
Jaroslava Simonidesová, from a local civic group, told SME that the majority of the dogs are refusing to eat properly and caretakers therefore have to feed them by injecting them with liquid food.
She told the daily on May 18 that the treatment had already cost Sk60,000 (€1,540).
The police are searching for the perpetrators.
The animal shelter in Banská Štiavnica is still operating an emergency regime, after several months.
The creation of the shelter was prompted by the increased number of stray animals, particularly dogs, found in the town.
"We always try to find a new family for the dogs from our shelter and we are now doing quite well," said Simonidesová.
"Some individuals probably do not like the shelter. They have also turned to the regional veterinary authority complaining that the dogs bark and smell.
The veterinary inspection found, however, that the shelter meets all required conditions," said Simonidesová.


Hurbanovo
Ancient and medieval finds unearthed

WHILE undertaking separate research work in Hurbanovo, archaeologists came across what used to be inhabited sites dating back to the early stone age - the Neolithic - and the Middle Ages, the SITA news agency reported.
The sites were discovered in the Bohatá area of Hurbanovo, where a company from Singapore, Nutritech Global, is building a new plant.
According to Gertrúda Březinová, head researcher at the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, the researchers found the remains of large pillar supported housing and many ceramic pots and jars, some of which are still intact.
She also said that the archaeological team discovered smooth bone objects such as sewing tools as well as stone objects such as small axes.
At the medieval site the archaeologists discovered the carcass of a horse and ceramics that date the site to the 10th and 11th centuries.
The area itself is situated on sand dunes that have been inhabited ever since the Stone Age.
"The river banks of the Žitava River have always been inhabited because the soil here is fertile," Březinová told SITA.
The sites are very rich and archaeologists have already cleared around 100 objects.
The first archaeological research work in Hurbanovo, carried out in the 1950s and 1960s, unearthed medieval Celtic burial sites.


Slovakia
Police detain Slovak drug dealer

THE NATIONAL anti-drug unit of the Slovak Police Corps, in cooperation with Austrian and German anti-drug services, detained a 34-year old drug dealer named only as Idris S A, the SITA news agency reported on May 17.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Monika Kuhajdová said that the Albanian-born Slovak citizen has operated in Slovakia for several years. Police have been monitoring him since 2001. Acting alone or via other dealers, Idris S A has allegedly sold or smuggled more than 200 kilogrammes of illegal drugs, mostly heroin, into Western Europe.
Police have arrested and convicted several of his accomplices who operated at various levels of the gang's hierarchy.
Slovak police and their foreign colleagues collected enough evidence for an international warrant, which Austria put out in November 2004.Police detained Idris on Friday, May 13. They would not reveal the location of his arrest.
Kuhajdová said that officers searched several houses in Bratislava. The officers confiscated two handguns, a large amount of cash and some documents proving the organized group's activities.


ON A WINDLESS day, a huge tree unexpectedly collapsed on a car seriously injuring its driver.
photo: SME - Martin Kilian

Nitra
Elm tree collapse injures driver

A TEN-metre-tall elm tree collapsed right on top of a moving car, causing spinal injuries to the driver and extensive damage to the car.
The accident took place in the city of Nitra on May 19 despite there being almost no wind on that day. The 49-year-old male driver suffered cervical cord injuries, the daily SME reported.
The tree fell just a few metres away from a place where a windstorm last year blew down a different tree. The tree was part of an elm tree alley.
Although there was no wind on the day of the incident, the day before had seen high winds and heavy rain in the area. This is one explanation for the sudden collapse of the tree. Another reason may have been the fact that the tree was ridden with parasites.
The local environmental authority will have the trees in the elm alley inspected for diseases and parasites and will then decide on the next steps.

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