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Slovakia
Lost or injured in mountains must pay

PEOPLE who get lost or suffer injuries and have to be rescued by the Mountain Rescue Service will have to pay for the help as of July 2006, the TASR news agency reported.
The change is included in the revision to the law on mountain rescue service, which Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signed on November 28.
Paying for mountain rescue services when one is in trouble in the mountains is common practice in most alpine countries. The amendment to the law will improve the chances of getting paid and make proving a breach of the law easier, the Interior Ministry said.
Also, more climbers and hikers are expected to take out insurance policies. At the same time the Mountain Rescue Service will be incorporated into an integrated rescue system.
The amendment also makes it necessary for mountain rescuers to undergo specialist training and take an examination before a commission appointed by the service's director. Rescuers must take the examination bi-annually.
To increase the safety of holidaymakers in the mountains, the rights and duties of ski-slope, ski tow, ski lift and cableway keepers are also being amended.
Cableway owners will have to give priority to rescuers and those they are rescuing, at no cost. These conditions apply all-year-round, weather permitting.
The amendment will come into force as of January 1, 2006, though the part relating to payment for rescue services will apply only from July 1, 2006.


Horné Srnie
Alcoholic's newborn baby dies

A WOMAN from Horné Srnie gave birth to a baby boy in her own flat without medical assistance. The baby boy, who died after the birth by strangling on the umbilical cord, had 1.4 parts of alcohol per mille in his blood, doctors said following an autopsy.
According to the SME daily, 29-year-old Soňa B already lost one son who died at the age of just three months, and she miscarried another baby.
The only child that survived is Ondrej, who is being raised by his grandmother and attends ele-mentary school.
The grandmother said that her daughter and her husband are alcoholics.
Police spokeswoman Lenka Bušová said that the police have already started criminal proceedings against the woman.
During her most recent pregnancy Soňa B did not visit a gynaecologist until her 22nd week. She refused to go to hospital.
Miroslav Chovanec, head of the gynaecology ward in Trenčín hospital said that such a high presence of alcohol could be an immediate cause of death in a newborn. It is still unclear, however, whether this was the case with Soňa B's baby boy.
A level of 1.4 per mille is a high state of drunkenness in adults, let alone in babies, said Chovanec.
The doctor also said that drinking alcohol has a negative impact on the development of a fetus and if the drinking is regular and long-term with high quantities of alcohol it can even kill the child.
Babies born to alcoholic mothers are usually born under the normal weight, with underdeveloped organs.


Bratislava
Bank robber snatches Sk160,000

IN BROAD daylight on November 25, a robber burst into a high street bank, the VÚB in the Bratislava district of Dlhé Diely, and threatened employees at gunpoint. The man got away with Sk160,000 (€4,157), the Nový Čas daily wrote.
"The robber wore dark clothes and escaped from the bank," said Alena Toševová of the Bratislava regional police, without providing any other details because investigations are ongoing.
This was the fifth bank robbery this year in the Bratislava region. Robbers have taken close to Sk1 million (€26,300). The culprits face jail terms of up to 12 years, if caught.


Hundreds of people donned helmets on December 3 to a take a walk through Bratislava's Sitina tunnel, which is still under construction. The 1.5-kilometre-long tunnel is part of a new Bratislava highway and has two channels. This was probably the only day that pedestrians could walk through the structure. Starting late in 2006, the tunnel will serve only vehicle traffic.
photo: Jana Liptáková

Bratislava
Poor dad gets presidential pardon

SLOVAK President Ivan Gašparovič issued a presidential pardon on November 30 to a man who was sentenced to four months in jail for failing to pay alimony for his two children, the TASR news agency wrote.
The man failed to pay the money to his two children from his first marriage.
The president explained that he pardoned him because the man himself was too poor to pay.
He also took into consideration the fact that the man looks after two other children that a court entrusted to him after their mother refused to take care of them.


Bratislava
Trafficking gang disbanded

ON NOVEMBER 29, Slovak police smashed the biggest human trafficking gang in Slovakia. The gang had 28 members and since the autumn of 2004 trafficked 268 people across the Slovak-Czech border, the TASR news agency reported.
The gang earned Sk4.8 million (€126,000) from its activities.
Police investigators accused the gang members, among them two women and two minors, of illegally crossing a border as well as belonging to and supporting a criminal group.
A total of 238 police officers were involved in an extensive police operation that included a number of house searches: in Bratislava, Dunajská Streda, Prievidza, Hlohovec, and Piešťany.
Most of the time the traffickers hid the migrants in fridge and freezer boxes. Three quarters of them were heading to Austria and the rest to the Czech Republic. The traffickers charged around $700 per migrant (€600).
If convicted, the gang members face up to 12 years in jail.


Kočkovce
Polish trucker dies at railway crossing

A POLISH truck driver died on December 1 after a collision with a train in the village of Kočkovce near the western Slovak town of Púchov. An Intercity express train travelling from Bratislava to Košice hit the truck at a railway crossing, the TASR news agency reported.
"The truck was completely wrecked and the driver died immediately. A rescue team went to provide him with first aid, but it was too late," the head of the rescue team, Pavol Strašík, told the news agency.
Strašík said that after the collision, the train pushed the truck along the tracks for some 80 metres.
Lenka Bušová, spokeswoman with the Trenčín regional police headquarters, added that the truck was then thrown into electric lines nearby, which caused a local power blackout.
The train did not go off the tracks. The train engineer and a passenger suffered slight injuries.

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