- Title: Trial over Slovak journalist's murder puts justice system to test
- Date: 18th December 2019
- Summary: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA (FILE - MARCH 2, 2018) (REUTERS) PEOPLE PROTESTING AFTER KUCIAK'S MURDER, CARRYING BANNER READING (Slovak): "AN ATTACK ON JOURNALISTS = AN ATTACK ON ALL OF US PEOPLE WALKING DURING PROTEST PEOPLE WALKING IN PROTEST CARRYING PHOTOGRAPHS OF KUCIAK AND KUSNIROVA VARIOUS OF PEOPLE MARCHING
- Embargoed: 1st January 2020 18:08
- Keywords: Jan Kuciak Marian Kocner Martina Kusnirova Slovak businessman four on trial journalist and fiancee murdered
- Location: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA
- City: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA
- Country: Slovakia
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA002BAI7WVT
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A trial opens on Thursday (December 19) of a businessman and three others charged over the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancee, in what is seen as a test of Slovakia's judicial and political system ahead of an election in February.
The February 2018 murder of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova prompted mass demonstrations against corruption that forced the resignation of then prime minister Robert Fico. The case has dominated Slovakia's civic life since.
Kuciak, 27, and Kusnirova were gunned down in their house outside the capital Bratislava. The killing echoed the murder four months earlier of another journalist investigating corruption in an EU country, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in Malta.
Prosecutors say entrepreneur Marian Kocner, the subject of Kuciak's reporting on corruption, had contracted his killing.
Kocner and two alleged accomplices have pleaded not guilty while the fourth suspect has confessed to the shooting, according to public television RTVS, quoting police sources. They face up to life in prison if convicted.
Marek Vagovic, Kuciak's mentor and an editor at the Aktuality.sk news website, said articles by Kuciak into corruption had led to criminal investigations, and he was seen as a threat by the subjects of his research, including Kocner.
Vagovic added that the case was unique in Slovak history since the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993, and offered the chance for "catharsis" and for the country to move forward.
At the Thursday preliminary hearing, judges will either set the date for the main hearing or ask prosecutors for additional evidence.
Prime Minister Fico was replaced by a party ally last year and his leftist, socially conservative Smer party still leads the government as it has for 11 out of the past 13 years.
It has seen a slide in support but still tops opinion polls, although a wide group of opposition parties could edge it out of power in the Feb. 29 election.
(Production: Jiri Skacel, Lewis Macdonald)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None