Slovak officials say ex-police officer killed reporter Jan Kuciak | News | DW | 01.10.2018

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Slovak officials say ex-police officer killed reporter Jan Kuciak

The man who shot the Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak was an ex-police officer, Slovak officials have said. Prosecutor say the killer was paid €70,000 ($81,100) for the hit by a female suspect.

Protesters hold up pictures of Kuciak and his fiancée

The murder of Jan Kuciak triggered mass unrest and forced PM Robert Fico to resign

On Monday, Slovak authorities confirmed media reports that the suspected hit man in Jan Kuciak's murder was a former police officer. The killing of the 27-year-old investigative journalist prompted unrest that toppled the government and fueled outcry against the nation's police earlier this year.

Kuciak was investigating ties between government officials and the Italian mafia.  He was shot in the chest, and his girlfriend was shot in the head in their home in the eastern town of Velka Maca in February.

Payment in forgiven debt

On Monday, Slovak prosecutors said the hit man, identified as Tomas S, was paid a total of €70,000 ($81,100) by a female suspect, Alena Z. The payment consisted of €50,000 ($58,000) in cash and €20,000 ($23,000) in forgiven debt. The officials charged two more suspects, accusing one of acting as the driver and the other as an intermediary. All four have been detained and are awaiting trial in jail.

An unnamed special prosecutor told reporters that the fee was only for the murder of Kuciak. "His fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, was an innocent victim who was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said the prosecutor, whose name was not revealed for his protection.

Two Slovak police officers in front of a police car near the Jan Kuciak murder scene

Slovak police were blamed for destroying evidence in the Kuciak case

Reaching higher?

Prosecutors said that, even with the four suspects identified, "the question is where the money's from."

According to local media reports, Alena Z was working as an interpreter for the Slovak businessman Marian Kocner, whom the murdered journalist had been investigating.

Read more: Mafia ties and journalist's murder threaten to bring down government

Responding to reporters' questions about whether Kocner might be involved, Prosecutor General Jaromir Ciznar said: "I am not going to tell you this now."

Ciznar said it was very likely there would be more charges.

"We're still in the stage where charges have been pressed and we should not be too optimistic, but the evidence is very strong," he added.

Watch video 05:00

Crisis over journalist's murder in Slovakia

dj/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)