Published: Sun, March 04, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Police release seven suspects in Slovakian journalist's killing

Police release seven suspects in Slovakian journalist's killing

Thousands of people took to the streets across Slovakia to protest against corruption after the murder of a journalist who reported on alleged links between organized crime gangs and people close to the government.

The murder has raised concerns about media freedom and corruption in Slovakia and sparked mass protests at home and sharp condemnation overseas.

Kuciak was about to publish an article that raised possible political links between Italian businessmen operating in Slovakia and the 'Ndrangheta. "After the 48 hours passed, the persons were released from detention", police spokeswoman Denisa Baloghova said in a statement.

More than 10,000 people marched in freezing temperatures in the capital Bratislava and thousands more gathered in other cities on Friday, according to newspaper reports and television footage.

The latest protests echoed a wave of anti-graft rallies by mostly young Slovaks a year ago demanding the dismissal of senior police officials and ministers in Fico's government for alleged foot-dragging on fighting corruption. It follows the October 2017 assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who had denounced corruption in Malta.

Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, who planned to marry in May, were found shot dead at their home last weekend before he could finish the article. But his government has offered a 1 million euro ($A1.6 million) reward for information aiding the investigation into Kuciak's murder. His last, unfinished article was published posthumously by Slovak and worldwide media.

Local media reports say he may have been killed because he had been investigating suspected collusion between the Slovak administration and the Italian Mafia.

Franco Roberti told Italian radio that Slovakian authorities had been warned, "but unfortunately they didn't heed us" with regards to the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate's expansion into Slovakia.

Echoing opposition parties, the leader of Most-Hid, a junior partner in Fico's three-party coalition, has also demanded Interior Minister Robert Kalinak resign.

Christophe Deloire, the secretary-general of RSF, met with Fico on Friday. Afterward, Deloire said he told Fico "you should express regret and apologize for having insulted journalists on several occasions".

The European Parliament is expected to send a fact-finding mission to Slovakia as early as next week, German MEP Ingeborg Grassle said on Saturday.

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