European Anti-Corruption Journalist Found Murdered In Bulgaria

Danny Woods
October 9, 2018

The body of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova was found on Saturday near a pedestrian alley in an area with heavy vegetation, Bulgarian state media reported.

Marinova worked for a small local TV station called TVN where she presented two investigative programs.

In the last episode, which aired on September 30, the show broadcast interviews with Dimitar Stoyanov from the investigative Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian RISE Project.

Prosecutors said she had been raped and beaten with such force that her face was unrecognisable.

The brutal killing of the Bulgarian journalist Victoria Marinova has drawn global condemnation and calls from media watchdogs for a comprehensive worldwide investigation.

"It is unacceptable that in Europe journalists are getting killed again", he said, referring to the killings of two other investigative journalists in those European Union countries.

Bulgarian police are investigating the rape and slaying of a television reporter and presenter whose body was dumped near the Danube River.

Chief Public Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, on a trip to Ruse, said authorities had no new leads on a motive.

"All versions" regarding the murder were on the table, the vice director of local police, Ilian Enchev, said.

Marinova died "of combined trauma to her head and asphyxiation", he said. Investigators are still trying to trace potential witnesses and establish a motive for her killing.

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In October 2017, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a vehicle bomb near her home, while in February this year Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead.

Harlem Desir, media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) condemned the killing on Twitter, saying that he would closely follow the investigation. He said there was no evidence to suggest the murder was related to Marinova's work and there was no information that she had been threatened.

Widespread corruption, shady media ownership, and suspected collusion between journalists, politicians, and oligarchs have made objective reporting a constant obstacle-run, RSF said.

And even some of Marinova's fellow journalists were not convinced that she was killed because of her reporting.

Marinova's murder has drawn worldwide condemnation and calls from media watchdogs for a comprehensive investigation.

In February, Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova were shot dead.

It was not clear whether the murder was linked to Marinova's journalistic activities, Balkan Insight reported.

The European anti-fraud office OLAF declined to comment on the killing, but its press office said it was "aware of allegations concerning possible misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria that have been brought to light by journalists in recent weeks".

In a statement from the United Nations cultural agency's headquarters in Paris, Azoulay added: "Attacks on journalists erode the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and its corollaries, press freedom and free access to information". It featured the work of two journalists investigating the alleged misuse of public European Union funds by a network of corporations in the region.

Jourova and MEPs have visited Malta and Slovakia to keep an eye on police enquiries, but no one has been brought to justice yet.

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