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European Union leaders, world media shocked at murder of Slovak journalist

European Union leaders, world media shocked at murder of Slovak journalist

Slovakia's police chief Tibor Gaspar said that 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his partner were found dead on the evening of February 25 in their house in the town of Velka Maca, 65 kilometers east of Bratislava. Police believe they were murdered sometime between Thursday and Sunday, when their bodies were discovered after family members became concerned that the couple could not be reached.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico called the killing "repugnant" and said if that was an assassination it would be "an unprecedented attack on freedom of the press and democracy in Slovakia".

In his last story for the site, Kuciak reported on suspected tax fraud connected with a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava.

However, for a decade the investigative journalist Pavol Rypal, who documented the operations of the mafia, is missing.

Slovakia had "never faced such an unprecedented attack on a journalist", Gaspar said.

Kuciak was working for Aktuality.sk news website.

The authorities have offered USD1.23 million to whoever can assist the government in their investigations to find the accuser, as Kuciak's death is considered the first murder case in Slovakia. "We have to find the culprits as soon as possible and ensure the safety of all journalists".

Daphne Caruana Galizia, a reporter in Malta who investigated corruption, was killed in October by a bomb that destroyed her vehicle. In December, three men were charged with murder, the criminal use of explosives, criminal conspiracy, and being involved in organised crime in relation to her death. It added: "We mourn with the family, the friends and the colleagues; we will do everything to support the investigating authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice".

Mr Kuciak said previous year he filed a complaint with police after the businessman, Marian Kocner, threatened him following another story. Many held candles, marching in silence in sub-zero weather in memory of Kuciak, who was murdered along with his fiancee.

The editors-in-chief of a dozen Slovak media outlets signed a joint statement calling the killing a "serious sign that crime is turning against one of the most important pillars of freedom: freedom of speech and the right of citizens to control those in power and those who disrespect the law", according to IPI.

He denied having negative interactions with the reporter, though he also admitted that he had suggested that any negative information he learned about Kuciak could also be reported.

According to a prominent investigative reporter Tom Nicholson, Kuciak recently researched business groups in eastern Slovakia dealing with European Union agriculture subsidies and their possible links with Italian mafia from Calabria, the so called Ndrangheta. "I call on the Slovak authorities to launch a thorough investigation with global support if needed for Jan Kuciak", he wrote on Twitter.

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