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Slovaks Demand Justice for Slain Journalist

A year on from the brutal killing of Jan Kuciak, further signs emerge of involvement by a notorious businessman.

22 February 2019

Thousands of people gathered in Bratislava and other Slovak cities yesterday to commemorate journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee a year after they were shot dead in an apparent contract killing.

 

 

Four suspects have been indicted in connection with the murders. One suspect, identified as Alena Zs., who is alleged to have hired the killers, worked as an interpreter for wealthy businessman Marian Kocner. Kuciak was investigating Kocner at the time of his death, AFP reports.

 

Kocner is in detention, suspected of financial crimes Kuciak wrote about, although he has not been charged in connection with the murders, two Czech journalists report for the investigative news organization OCCRP.

 

Allegations of high-level political connections to Kuciak’s murder continue to flourish.

 

Slovak President Andrej Kiska, a political foe of the ruling Smer-SD party, told reporters that Kuciak "was killed only because he wanted to reveal the truth about the high-ranking people who appeared to be untouchable," according to AFP.

 

Kuciak’s father told the rally in Bratislava that Slovak security services and police, as well as Kocner, had been watching his son.

 

New evidence emerged in October that Kuciak had been under physical surveillance in the period before the murders, Al Jazeera reports.

 

In the months before his death, Kuciak’s reports focused on the involvement of Italian organized crime in Slovakia. He uncovered links between Slovak officials and Italians allegedly connected to the Calabrian ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

 

The slayings set off a political earthquake in Slovakia, forcing some of Smer-SD’s most influential figures to resign, including long-serving populist Prime Minister Robert Fico.

 

 

  • The former chief of Slovakia’s counterintelligence service SIS, Peter Toth, told police he had put several journalists under surveillance at Kocner’s request, including Kuciak, Aktualne.cz reported on 1 February.

 

  • The Slovak news site that employed Kuciak, Aktuality.sk, recently released a recorded phone conversation between Kocner and Kuciak. “You are a very bad person,” Kocner allegedly said in the September 2018 call. “You can be sure, Mr. Kuciak, that I’m beginning to take a personal interest in you. You and your people, your mother, father and siblings,” he said, going on to deny that this amounted to a threat, Aktualne.cz reports.
Compiled by Ky Krauthamer
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