Slovakia: Impunity remains after verdict in case of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak and fiancée Martina Kušnírová

Slovakia: Impunity remains after verdict in case of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak and fiancée Martina Kušnírová - Protection

Image: Ladislav Luppa / CC BY-SA

ARTICLE 19 is disappointed by the verdict in the trial of murdered journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, against the killer, instigator and other organisers of the murders. While killer Tomáš Szabó was found guilty, those who organised the killing were acquitted.

ARTICLE 19’s Executive Director, Quinn McKew said:

ARTICLE 19 condemns the acquittal of the instigator and the organiser of Jan Kuciak and Matina Kušnírová’s murders. Convicting only the killer but not masterminds in this case will not restore a sense of justice for Jan and Martina and their families. This is particularly shocking since the journalist and his fiancée were murdered because of his investigative work.

Attacks on journalists, particularly those reporting on allegations of corruption and crime in their governments, not only silences individual critical voices but has a chilling effect on freedom of expression, discouraging other journalists from reporting on similar issues. Impunity for those who organise such attacks only increases these risks.”

Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová were shot and killed at their home on 21 February 2018.  Prior to his death, Kuciak had been investigating allegations of tax fraud and financial crimes involving business leaders and politicians in Slovakia. His work appeared on, an online news site in Slovakia.

Businessman Marian Kočner was accused of asking an associate Alena Zsuzsová to kill Kuciak because of the journalist’s investigations into his affairs. Zsuzsová was alleged to have contracted Zoltán Andruskó, who recruited two cousins, Tomáš Szabó and Miroslav Marček, to carry out the murder.  Marček and Andruskó plead guilty to their involvement in the murder, and both are currently serving lengthy prison sentences.

Tomáš Szabó was today sentenced for participation in the murder. Marian Kočner and Tomáš Szabó were also found guilty of the crime of illicit armament. However, the Court found that Marian Kočner and Alena Zsuzsová were not guilty of instigating the murders.

Kočner is believed to have links to both organised crime and SMER-SD (Direction – Social Democracy),  the ruling political party that Kuciak was also investigating. Former Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned as a result of the political crisis that followed Kuciak and Kušnírová’s murders.

Kočner, Zsuzsová and Szabó had all denied the charges against them.

Click here for more information on the details of the case.

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