Four charged over Slovakia journalist murder

Four charged over Slovakia journalist murder

Slovakia’s Special Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges against prominent Slovak tycoon Marian Kocner and another three people in the murder case of reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. 

Kuciak, 27, had been investigating alleged high-level corruption linked to the Italian mafia before he was shot dead with his fiancée at their home near Bratislava.

The three others charged were Alena Zsuzová, Miroslav Marček and Tomáš Szabó.

Kocner is a politically connected entrepreneur who was a focus of Kuciak’s reporting on corruption and cronyism. 

Zoltán Andruskó, who is also suspected of involvement in the murders, has been helping investigators since his arrest. He reportedly made a deal over his punishment on October 18.

“The investigation file has more than 25,000 pages and dozens of attachments, which include seized finances and valuables,” a Slovak prosecution spokeswoman said. 

If found guilty, the accused could be sentenced to 25 years to life in jail. 

Kuciak and Kušnírová were murdered in their house in Veľká Mača in Trnava region in February 2018.

Subsequent protests – the largest in the country since the November 1989 revolution – led to the resignation of prime minister Robert Fico’s government and several police commanders, including the corps president Tibor Gašpar.

Although Fico resigned last year, his ruling three-party coalition has survived, allowing his chosen successor, Peter Pellegrini, to take power. 

The case could still have a major political impact on the general election in February, with polls showing a drop in support for the populist SMER party and other parties have downplayed their links to Kocner.

Prosecutors said in August they had tens of thousands phone messages from Kocner, including exchanges with “representatives of state bodies and the justice system”.

The Slovak media has published some of Kocner’s messages, leading to the resignations of a deputy minister, two prosecutors and a judge.

In March the police detained Kocner, who was accused of ordering Kuciak’s murder. He also faces charges of alleged forgery of promissory notes for millions of euros for broadcaster TV Markíza.

Kocner has denied any wrongdoing.

Also under scrutiny is the Slovak Deputy Speaker Martin Glváč, who reportedly exchanged 49 messages with Kocner between October 2017 and May 2018.

 

The victims’ home. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

 

 

 

 

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