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Reporter had investigated reputed crime bosses and their links to the ruling populist party.26 February 2018
The murder of Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak might be related to his work, Slovak national police chief Tibor Gaspar said today.
Kuciak, 27, and his partner were found dead of gunshot wounds yesterday at their home in Velka Maca, some 50 kilometers east of Bratislava. Police said the killings took place sometime between last Thursday and Sunday, the daily Sme reports.
“This cold-blooded murder of young people is a shocking act, which must be punished,” Slovak President Andrej Kiska said today, as quoted by the website of Czech Radio. “We must find those who did this as quickly as possible and ensure the safety of all journalists.”
The news of the death of Kuciak – the first journalist to be murdered in Slovakia’s modern history, Sme says – immediately sparked speculation of a link between his death and his work, which often looked into business dealings of alleged crime figures and members of the ruling Smer party.
Kuciak’s death was probably connected to his work, Gaspar told a news conference today.
Those fears were amplified by the publisher of Aktuality.sk, the news site where Kuciak worked for the past three years. The Swiss-German group Ringier Axel Springer said there was “justified suspicion” of a tie between Kuciak’s research and his killing, Reuters reports.
Kuciak’s last published story reported on allegations of tax fraud connected to a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava. A company owned by businessman Marian Kocner was involved in buying or selling more than a dozen apartments in the complex, according to the story.
Kocner last year threatened to “spread dirt” about Kuciak and his family after the journalist reported he sold a flat in another luxury housing complex in the capital, Bonaparte, where his neighbor was Prime Minister Robert Fico, the Smer leader.
Kuciak “became more known publicly in connection with his investigations related to Bonaparte and when Kocner publicly threatened him,” Rasto Kuzel of the Slovak media monitoring group Memo 98 told TOL.
Slovak Prime Minister and Smer leader Robert Fico said if the killing proved to be tied to Kuciak’s work, “it would represent an unprecedented attack on the free press and democracy in Slovakia,” Czech Radio reports.
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