Slovakia: Prominent businessman charged with murder of journalist & fiancée, amidst further revelations of high-profile corruption
Author: Tatiana Jancarikova, Reuters, Published on: 23 October 2019
"Four charged in Slovak journalist murder that brought down prime minister", 21 October 2019
Slovak authorities charged a high-profile businessman and three others with murder[ing]…a journalist [(Jan Kuciak)] and his fiancée [(Martina Kusnirova)] last year, a case that still roils [Slovak] politics…after [bringing] down prime minister Robert Fico. Politically connected entrepreneur…Kocner and two alleged accomplices have pleaded not guilty….The fourth suspect has confessed to the shooting. A fifth man has confessed to facilitating the killing[s] and has made a plea deal…[T]he four suspects could face life in prison on six charges including pre-meditated murder.
The…case…has been watched as a test of Slovak police and judicial independence. The murder of Kuciak prompted mass demonstrations against corruption last year and…Revelations of links between Kocner and security officials… have led to more resignations in recent weeks. Prosecutors say Kocner, a subject of Kuciak’s reporting on corruption, had contracted…the killing[s]. [T]he case could still have a major political impact in a general election in February…polls showing a slide in support for the ruling SMER party, and politicians…playing down ties to Kocner. Prosecutors said…they…extracted tens of thousands [of] messages from Kocner’s phone, including communication with “representatives of state bodies and the justice system”. Slovak media published…parts of…[the] messages…leading to resignations of a deputy minister, two prosecutors and a judge.