Around Slovakia

Two arrested in child porn raids

THE LARGEST single operation against child pornography took place on June 14, involving 13 European countries from Slovakia to Iceland. Slovak police spokesman Martin Korch told the press that the long-planned Europol operation, codenamed "Icebreaker", was led by the Italian police who discovered a server there that distributed child pornography.
Police forces from Italy, Austria, Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Sweden participated in this vast investigation.
Hundreds of people were arrested, and the police confiscated computer equipment, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, and other material to be used as evidence.
Slovak police made two arrests, though Korch refused to comment before formal charges had been brought. He said, however, that the police raided five premises in Prešov, Trenčín, and Nová Dubnica.
During a house search in Prešov, the owner voluntarily handed over 196 CDs, 17 DVDs and one PC hard disk. The police are investigating the confiscated material, which they suspect contains child pornography and evidence of child abuse.
During the Nová Dubnica and Trenčín house raids, police forces confiscated one computer, 10 CDs and DVDs and four hard disks.
The Slovak police were acting on a tip from their Italian counterparts. A surveillance operation resulted in the two arrests.
Korch added that it was very hard to uncover and prove these kinds of crimes because people involved in child pornography often use highly sophisticated methods to hide their identities.

Juggler sets heavy record

SLOVAK juggler Milan Roskopf, who is known as "the man with three balls", created a new record at a recent Festival of Records held June 12 in the Czech town of Pelhřimov, SITA news agency wrote.
Roskopf juggles with three 9.08-kilogramme balls. He juggled with them continuously for 22.36 seconds.
Apart from the new record, he also gained the award of Recorder of 2004 in the festival's Slovakia category. He received this prize in appreciation of his performance last year when he walked 30.4 kilometres from Jihlava to Pelhřimov, walking and juggling without dropping his balls once.

Graffiti artists face prison

GRAFFITI artists in Slovakia face fines and even imprisonment under an amendment to the criminal law that came into force on July 1.
The amendment identified a new crime, violating public property by writing, drawing or spray painting, which is now part of the criminal code, the TASR news wire reported.
The amendment was proposed in November 2004 by opposition MP Katarína Tóthová.
According to Tóthová, the current law does not allow for punishment of graffiti artists commensurate with the damage they cause. Graffiti cases are currently dealt with as misdemeanours.
Although President Ivan Gašparovič initially vetoed the approved law and returned it to parliament because he considered the penalties too lenient, on May 10, MPs ignored his veto and re-approved the amendment.
Graffiti artists face fines and prison sentences of from one to three years, if convicted under the new law.
According to Tóthová, it is estimated that in 2004 graffiti artists caused damage worth Sk1.5 million (€38,460) to Bratislava trams alone.

Bikers remember dead fellows

AROUND 100 bikers gathered June 11 in Zvolen to commemorate their friends and fellow bikers who died on the road, the daily SME reported.
The event was called "The ride of the deceased bikers, notice us more". The bikers formed a motorcade and rode from Zvolen to Šturec, a mountain pass, where they lit candles and sent a "roaring greeting to the bikers' heaven", the daily wrote.
"The idea came up on our website. In the discussion we found out about more and more accidents that we [bikers] did not cause. So we decided to point this out to the public," said Tomáš Hajduch from Košice, one of the event's organizers.
The bikers say that statistics prove car drivers cause most accidents involving motorbikes.
Last year alone 25 motorcyclists died on Slovak roads and 21 in the previous year.
In 2004, 400 bikers suffered injuries in road accidents.
One of the worst motorbikes accidents in Slovakia happened a year ago between Zvolenská Slatina and Vígľaš in Central Slovakia. A head-on collision between two motorbikes left three people dead.
At the time one of the officers who took part in the clearing up operation said: "It must have been a terrible crash. Pieces of bikes were scattered over a circumference of nearly 100 metres. The machines could not be identified at all, and we literally had to collect pieces of the victims from the crash area."

VISITORS are already flocking to a rebuilt Šurany synagogue.
photo: TASR

Synagogue opens after reconstruction

AFTER YEARS of reconstruction work, a synagogue in Šurany has reopened, the daily SME reported.
The synagogue is a national cultural site and the Jewish community has leased it to the local authority for five years. Šurany deputy mayor Jozef Šutka oversaw the reconstruction works.
The reconstruction of the interior started in 1993 and cost more than Sk6 million (€156,000). The money came from the town and various sponsors and foundations.
"The [entrance] door is a faithful copy of the original one and a great display of craftsmanship.
"The ceiling is painted white, but after a month of work the restoration team uncovered an original painting with the Star of David on a part of it. Once we raise more money we can continue in our work," said Šutka.
Some Sk10 million (€260,000) is required to renovate the outer plastering of the synagogue. The town plans to apply to the EU for more funds.
The synagogue is a reminder of the 600 Šurany Jews who died in Nazi death camps during World War II.
A memorial plaque was unveiled in the vestibule of the chapel. A statue of a female in flames stands where a cupboard for the Torah used to be. The statue was made by Viliam Široký.
The synagogue will be used by the Šurany townspeople for various cultural events.

CERAMIC Štvorchlapový Vinco can hold 50 litres of wine and "nourish" four drinkers at a time.
photo: Jana Liptáková

Giant jar for four

PROBABLY the biggest jar in Slovakia, which stands at 1.1 metres tall, was produced in Pezinok in early June during the local ceramics fair there on June 10 and 11, the SITA news wire reported.
The jar goes by the name Štvorchlapový Vinco (Four-man Vinco) because four people can drink from it at the same time. It was made by three ceramic artists: Miroslav Orságh from Pezinok, Ján Viglaš from Bernolákovo, and Marián Liška from Modra.
They took six hours and 40 minutes to make the jar, using 60 kilogrammes of clay. No wine can actually be poured from the jar, since it has an opening at the neck. Wine can be sucked from the jar through four so-called "drinkers", small openings near the top of the jar. The jar can hold 50 litres of wine.
Because nothing like the Štvorchlapový Vinco has been created before, Slovak records office said will register it as a national record.

Soldiers honoured for civic duties

DEFENCE Minister Juraj Liška presented a special military flag to the head of the Mechanized Battalion in Michalovce, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Michalko.
The battalion, a part of the mechanized brigade, battles against military and non-military threats, the TASR news wire wrote.
"Our unit received the flag, which represents the highest honour, for the perfect fulfilment of its tasks and because of our soldiers' part in peace missions in Cyprus, Kosovo and Iraq," Michalko told the news wire.
Michalko also pointed out that members of Mechanized Battalion Michalovce have led clean up operations after floods and other natural disasters in eastern Slovakia.
Already this year the battalion has taken part in three flood control operations.

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