Pezinok, September 3 (TASR) – The senate of the Specialised Criminal Court (STS) in Pezinok on Thursday acquitted defendants Marian K. and Alena Zs. of the charges in the case of the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova, while at the same time convicting Tomas Sz. in the same case and sentencing him to 25 years in prison.The verdicts in the case aren’t yet valid, as appeals can be submitted with the Supreme Court.
Head of the senate Ruzena Sabova explained when reading the verdicts that it hasn’t been proven that Marian K. and Alena Zs. committed the crime for which they were charged. Marian K. was only found guilty of illegal arming, for which he has to pay a fine of €5,000 or spend five months in prison if he fails to comply with this.
Tomas Sz. was at the same time found guilty of murdering businessman Peter Molnar, of forcible entry into a dwelling, of illegal arming and arms trading, with all the crimes being carried out with complicity. He’ll serve his 25-year sentence for the murders of Kuciak, Kusnirova and Molnar in a maximum security prison.
According to the verdict, Tomas Sz. is obliged to pay the Kuciak family material damages worth €1,490 and immaterial damages amounting to €140,000. When it comes to the Molnar family, the immaterial damages that he’s obliged to cover equal €40,000.
As it wasn’t proven that Marian K. and Alena Zs. committed the crime of which they were charged, the court referred the bereaved families’ demand for damages from Marian K. and Alena Zs. to a civil court process.
The court defended the acquittals by stating that it couldn’t reliably and without any doubts come to the conclusion that Marian K. and Alena Zs. were responsible for the murders of Kuciak and Kusnirova. “An existing motive and an existential threat are insufficient. A court can accuse and sentence someone only based on their illegal conduct. Such conduct wasn’t proven in the cases of Marian K. and Alena Zs. according to the court,” stated head of the court senate Ruzena Sabova.
In the court’s opinion, the testimony of witness Peter Toth demonstrated that Marian K. was frustrated with journalists before the murder. He allegedly told Toth that killing one journalist would be all that it would take to scare others. The court stated, however, that uttering an idea isn’t a crime, and that it wasn’t proven that this specific idea was carried out.
The trial of Marian K. and company began in January 2020. The senate consisted of head judge Ruzena Sabova and judges Ivan Matel and Rastislav Stieranka. The criminal charges concerned six crimes, namely the murders of Kuciak and Kusnirova, the murder of Molnar, and four other crimes concerned illegal arming.
The first person to be sentenced regarding the case was Zoltan Andrusko, who acted as an intermediary of the murder. Andrusko was followed by Miroslav M., who admitted to killing the couple. While the intermediary was sentenced to 15 years after agreeing to a plea bargain, Miroslav M. was sentenced to 23 years, but his sentence isn’t valid yet, either.
The couple was shot dead on February 21, 2018 in their house in Trnava region. The news of their deaths ignited country-wide protests, which led to a change in the post of prime minister and several other ministerial posts.