Seven Detained In Slovak Journalist's Murder Case


Slovakian police say they have detained several Italian businessmen named as having mafia connections in a posthumously published investigative report on alleged high level corruption by the murdered journalist Ján Kuciak. The report alleged connections between Slovak businessmen of Italian origin who embezzled European Union funds in coordination with 'Ndrangheta, a Calabrian mafia syndicate.

Officials have said the murders may be linked to Kuciak's investigations into activities of organized crime gangs, including the Italian mafia.

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".

A Slovak journalist shot dead with his girlfriend was probably targeted for his investigative work, police said on Monday, a case that has shocked the small central European country and highlighted public concerns about corruption.

Jan Kuciak, 27, and his partner Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home.

Culture Minister Marek Madaric, a long-time senior member of Fico's Smer party, resigned on Wednesday saying he could not "put up with a journalist being murdered" during his tenure, Reuters reported.

Maria Troskova, a close Fico aide, was forced out after Kuciak alleged she had ties to Vadala, who was purportedly involved with the Italian 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate in Slovakia.

A candlelit protest in the capital Bratislava called by an opposition party drew around 1,000 people Wednesday night.

Some 25 marches were planned Friday in Slovakia to honor the slain couple, including one in the capital, Bratislava, at which President Andrej Kiska will attend.

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Fico accused the opposition Wednesday of using the murder as a "political tool to get people out on the streets and gain power".

Jan Kuciak's news website published his last, unfinished story Wednesday.

According to local media reports, Vadalà on Thursday morning was arrested with his brother Bruno and cousin Pietro Catroppa as part of police operations targeting two of the entrepreneur's apartments in Michalovce and Trebisov in eastern Slovakia.

Kuciak is the first journalist to have been killed in Slovakia, and his death is being seen as an assault on the press in a country where it has generally been tolerated.

The Kuciak shooting followed the October vehicle bomb murder of campaigning Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia - who exposed crime and corruption on the Mediterranean island.

"This murder will change the atmosphere in Slovakia in a way that there will be much harder pressure on the investigation of serious crimes, on revealing corruption and clientelism, on revealing interconnection of politics and business".

They resigned until the investigation into the shootings is completed.

Fico is known for his numerous attacks on the media.