Slovak police detain Italian suspects named by slain journalist

Gwen Vasquez
March 2, 2018

Slovak police commander Tibor Gaspar told reporters that the individuals taken into custody during raids in the eastern town of Michalovice were "persons mentioned" by Kuciak in connection with the "Italian track".

Slovak police yesterday detained several Italian businessmen named by murdered journalist Jan Kuciak in an explosive report on alleged high-level corruption linked to the Italian mafia, as his killing sparked fresh demonstrations in the European Union state.

Mr Kuciak's final report described, among other details, the activities in agriculture, real estate and other sectors of a Slovak-based Italian man believed to belong to the criminal group. It was the first time a journalist had been killed in Slovakia apparently because of his work.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has offered a one million euro ($1.2m) reward for anyone who comes forward with information about the murder of an investigative journalist.

They said they were shocked by the slayings and expressed their condolences to the relatives.

Those figures included Viliam Jasan, the director of Fico's Crisis Management and State Security Department, and Maria Troskova, a former model who was hired as Fico's assistant, both of whom have resigned, but without admitting guilt.

"You link innocent people to a double murder without any evidence", Fico said.

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The murders have raised concerns about media freedoms and corruption in Slovakia and sparked a wave of worldwide condemnation.

The junior Most-Hid party said global investigators should be invited to join local police to aid transparency, and also called on Interior Minister Robert Kalinak, a close ally of Fico, whose business acquaintances had been subjects of Kuciak's earlier articles, to resign. Last October, Maltese anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a auto bomb.

The people were detained after police raids in the Kosice and Presov regions.

Bela Bugar, the Most-Hid chief, also said that Fico should sack his interior minister Robert Kalinak over the affair, a call that the prime minister has so far resisted.

Culture Minister Marek Madaric announced earlier on Wednesday that he was resigning from his government post.

Italian organized crime figures may have been involved in the shooting death of an investigative journalist in Slovakia, a Canadian reporter said Tuesday as the country's newspapers printed black-and-white front pages to honour the slain journalist.

Nicholson said he was ready to testify but has not been approached by police yet.

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