Slovakia journalist murder: Seven suspects released by police

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People hold portraits of murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova during a silent protest march in their memory on March 2, 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia.Image copyright
AFP

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Marchers carry portraits of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova

All of the seven people arrested in connection with the killing of an investigative journalist in Slovakia have been released, police say.

Jan Kuciak, who was writing an article on corruption allegations, and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead at their home last Sunday.

The murders shocked the country and led to protest marches in 25 cities.

Kuciak, 27, had been investigating alleged political corruption linked to Italian organised crime in Slovakia.

He was killed before he had finished the article, but it was published posthumously.

A police statement said the seven suspects were released because no evidence had emerged during the 48 hours they can be legally detained.

One of the men is an Italian who had done business deals with officials close to Prime Minister Robert Fico.

On Friday, thousands of marchers braved freezing temperatures and held protest vigils across the country.

In Bratislava, marchers carried pictures of the dead couple along with a banner reading: “An attack on journalists is an attack on all of us.”

President Andrej Kiska led the protesters, said to number between 10,000 and 20,000, in a minute’s silence.

One demonstrator, Jozef Belovic, told Reuters: “There is a dirty mess all around here… and we common people have to put up with it.”

Some of the protesters at the peaceful march then moved to the office of Prime Minister Fico to demand the government’s resignation.

Image copyright
AFP

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Hundreds attended the funeral of Martina Kusnirova in Gregorovce

The murdered pair were due to marry in May. The funeral for Martina Kusnirova was held on Friday. She was buried in her wedding gown in a ceremony attended by hundreds of mourners in the northern town of Gregorovce.

Kuciak’s funeral will be held on Saturday in Stiavnik, close to the Czech border.

In his investigation, Kuciak alleged that Italian businessmen with ties to the feared Calabrian organised crime syndicate ‘Ndrangheta had settled in eastern Slovakia, and spent years embezzling EU funds for this relatively poor region on the border with Ukraine.

Image copyright
Reuters

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Prime Minister Robert Fico was the target of some of the protesters

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EPA/Handout

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Kuciak will be laid to rest on Saturday

One of the men he named was Antonino Vadala, who was among those released on Saturday.

This is the first killing of a journalist in Slovakia’s history.

Prime Minister Fico has offered a €1m ($1.2m; £890,000) reward for anyone who comes forward with information about the case.

He has also regularly attacked journalists in the past, calling them “dirty, anti-Slovak whores” and “slimy snakes”.



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