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Slovak prosecutor resigns over contacts with suspect in journalist murder

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BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – A Slovak deputy general prosecutor resigned under pressure on Friday over his contacts with the main suspect in the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, the second such departure in the high-profile case.

The murder of Kuciak, who wrote about political corruption and fraud cases and was found shot dead at home along with his fiancee in February 2018, prompted the largest protests in Slovakia since the end of Communist rule in 1989 and led to the resignation of its prime minister, Robert Fico.

General prosecutor Jaroslav Ciznar said his deputy, Peter Sufliarsky, had agreed to resign, effective Monday, after admitting to exchanging hundreds of text messages with the man charged with ordering Kuciak’s murder, prior to his arrest.

Some of the messages with the accused – politically connected businessman Marian Kocner – in which Sufliarsky discusses politics, were leaked by the media on Wednesday.

Kocner, who was the subject of some of Kuciak’s reporting, was charged earlier this month with ordering the journalist’s murder. He denies any wrongdoing.

Sufliarsky said on Thursday the communication was a mistake but denied cooperating with the suspect in any way.

Another deputy general prosecutor was fired in January for having had online contacts with a second suspect in the murder.

Public distrust in political leaders has kept attention on any signs that the murder was linked to ruling circles.

The killing has also been a major factor in a presidential election in which opinion polls show liberal political novice, Zuzana Caputova, favoured to defeat the ruling party’s candidate in a run-off vote on Saturday.

(Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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