Seven months after Slovakian investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kushnirova were killed in their home, three people have been charged with the murder.
The killings set off nationwide protests and rocked the European Union, bringing questions of media freedom, with the murders coming four months after Maltese investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing. She, like Kuciak, was looking into corruption at the highest levels of their governments.
The names of those charged were not given as European privacy laws offer protection even in cases of murder or serious crimes.
Kuciak was looking into fraud involving businessmen with political ties, and the suspected Mafia links of Italians with businesses in Slovakia, which a prosecutor earlier said led to a contract killing for hire. The suspects were nabbed in a home raid.
Kuciak’s last story, published after his death, reported on an Italian living in Slovakia with past business links to two Slovaks who later worked in the office of then-prime minister Robert Fico. Both resigned and denied any connection to the murder, as did their Italian former business partner who was later detained over drug trafficking charges and extradited to Italy.
After weeks of protests, Fico, Interior Minister Robert Kalinak and Police Chief Tibor Gaspar all stepped down but the former Premier’s Smer party remains in power under current Prime Minister, Peter Pellegrini, who welcomed the arrests.
Kuciak’s last story, completed by a group of journalists, also investigated why Fico had hired Mária Trošková, a then 27-year-old former model and Miss Universe contestant, as one of his close assistants despite having almost no political experience.
Trošková had been a business partner of Antonino Vadala, 42, an Italian living in Slovakia with alleged close ties to Italy’s ’Ndrangheta Mafia group, the Guardian said.
Photo: Peter Tkac – flickr.com/photos/peter_tkac/25745447547