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Andrej Kiska
Image: Getty Images/AFP/G. Hochmuth
Politics

Slovak president calls for sweeping changes

March 5, 2018

Slovak President Andrej Kiska has said a "serious political crisis" has resulted from Jan Kuciak's murder. Kuciak is thought to have been killed for investigating the Italian mafia's political influence in Slovakia.

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Slovakia's president, Andrej Kiska, has said there was no way back for the government following the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

"There's a huge public distrust of the state," he said during Sunday's televised tribute to Kuciak. "And many don't trust law enforcement authorities ... This distrust is justified. We crossed the line, things went too far and there's no way back."

Read more: Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak's murder sparks EU reactions

The president said he would host talks with the leaders of Slovakia's political parties to discuss his proposed government shake-up. "I can see two solutions: a profound change to government or early elections," he said.

Jan Kuciak case: Drew Sullivan speaks to DW

Kuciak's murder has shaken Slovakia, and has raised fresh concern about the state of media freedom and corruption in the country and Europe more generally.

The investigative journalist was working on a report highlighting the links between Slovakia's political elite and the Italian mafia when he and his fiancee were shot dead in their home near Bratislava on February 25.

Kuciak's employer posthumously published his last article this week, which revealed ties between Prime Minister Robert Fico's inner circle and individuals wanted in Italy for mafia-related crimes.

Authorities subsequently detained several Italian businessmen named by Kuciak, but released them all on Saturday due to lack of evidence.

Fico dismisses calls for new start

Despite facing a wave of anger for his party's part in the Kuciak's findings, Fico rejected Kiska's appeals for a new political start in the country and accused the president of "lining up with the opposition."

"We are not going to dance on the graves of these two young people," Fico said. "If there needs to be a change of government, that will be the result of agreement within the coalition and, in that case, the constitution of the Republic of Slovakia foresees no role for the president." 

Two of Fico's close associates were forced to resign in the wake of Kuciak's final article, while one minister quit in protest.

Should Fico resign, then the government would fall. New elections can be triggered with the support of three-fifths of lawmakers. The government can also ask for a confidence vote in parliament, where a simple majority would suffice.

Read more: Slain Slovak journalist was targeted by Italian mafia, says colleague

Fico has in the past described journalists as "dirty, anti-Slovak prostitutes" and used terms like "plain, silly hyenas" and "slimy snakes" to describe the media.

Nevertheless, following the murder of Kuciak, his government has sworn its commitment to the "protection of freedom of speech and the safety of journalists."

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dm/cmk (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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