BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovak authorities charged four people on Monday in the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancee, a case that sparked major protests against high-level corruption and forced then-premier Robert Fico to resign.
A state prosecutors spokeswoman said in a statement that the six charges filed over the 2018 shooting death of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova included pre-meditated murder.
The main suspect is Marian Kocner, a politically connected entrepreneur who was a key subject of Kuciak’s reporting on corruption and cronyism in the Central European country and who prosecutors believe contracted out the killing.
Kocner has denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer.
Kuciak, 27, and Kusnirova were gunned down in their house outside the capital Bratislava in February last year.
The murders shook the European Union member state’s political scene, triggered protests of up to 70,000 people at one point and forced the leftist Fico to resign last March.
His three-party coalition has survived, led by Fico’s hand-picked successor, Peter Pellegrini, but public anger flared anew with new details from the investigation into Kuciak’s killing indicated Kocner’s sway over state bodies.
Three suspects including Kocner charged have pleaded not guilty, while the fourth has confessed to shooting Kuciak and the fifth to facilitating the murder.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Mark Heinrich)