Investigative Journalist Jan Kuciak Murdered along with Fiancée

Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, 27, who was murdered along with his fiancé. (Photo: Jan Kuciak's Facebook profile)

Velka Maca/Bratislava, February 26 (TASR) – Investigative reporter for the Slovak news website Jan Kuciak, 27, whose focus was mainly on suspicions of major tax frauds, was shot and killed along with his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in his house in Velka Maca (Trnava region).

The murder seems to have been planned and it was most probably related to Kuciak’s journalist activities, Police Corps president Tibor Gaspar said at a press conference on Monday.

Kuciak was killed by a single shot to his chest, while a single shot in the head killed his girlfriend, said Gaspar, adding that the murder took place between Thursday and Sunday.

The investigative journalist, whose focus was mainly on suspicions of major tax frauds, was found by the police in his house in Velka Maca (Trnava region) on Sunday night. The police were alerted by relatives of Kuciak’s girlfriend who hadn’t heard from her since Thursday.

President Andrej Kiska on Monday expressed his condolences to the relatives, friends and colleagues of Kuciak and his fiancée.

“I’m shattered and shocked by the fact that something like this could have happened in Slovakia. The murder of young people in cold blood is a terrible crime that must be punished. We must find those who did it as soon as possible and provide security to journalists by using all means available,” said the president.

Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (Smer-SD) has scrapped his Monday programme in response to the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée.

“I’m unhappy and dismayed by the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée. I’m scrapping my planned programme and returning to Bratislava. The Interior Ministry and the country’s security forces will do their utmost to see the perpetrators of this shocking crime exposed as soon as possible,” wrote Kalinak on Facebook.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on Monday condemned the murder, stating that he was shocked to hear the news.

“I’m in shock. If it’s confirmed that it was related to his work, then it’s crazy. It would have never occurred to me that something like this could happen in Slovakia in 2018. I completely condemn violence against journalists,” said Babis, who was born in Slovakia.

Chief of Czech parliamentary party’s TOP 09 caucus Miroslav Kalousek noted that Kuciak was as old as his son. “I’m thinking of his parents and I can’t imagine more bitter suffering. Such ferocity must be punished. Europe can’t be a place where one pays with one’s life for the freedom of speech,” added Kalousek.

The crime was also condemned by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which noted that Kuciak, who was shot and killed along with his fiancée, is the second journalist to be murdered in a European Union country in the past five months.

“An investigative reporter has yet again been murdered in a European Union country,” stated Pauline Ades-Mevel, the head of RSF’s EU-Balkans desk. “We call for an investigation in order to establish the exact circumstances of Jan Kuciak’s death and we demand that the authorities shed all possible light on this case, especially as he and those close to him had been threatened in recent months,” said Ades-Mevel.

Slovakia is ranked 17th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index, five places lower than in 2016.