The Latest: Slovak minister refuses to resign, tensions rise
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — The Latest on the Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova, who were found shot in the head on Feb. 25 (all times local):
The tensions in Slovakia’s coalition government are increasing after the interior minister refused to resign following the slaying of an investigative journalist and his partner.
A junior party in Slovakia’s coalition government led by Prime Minister Robert Fico has called for the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak. The Most-Hid party of mostly ethnic Hungarians also wanted foreign investigators to join the team probing the journalists’ slaying.
After Kalinak, a close ally of Fico on their leftist Smer-Social Democracy party, said on Saturday he had no plans to resign, Most-Hid announced its leadership will meet March 15 to discuss the future of the coalition.
The ultranationalist Slovak National Party is the third member of the coalition.
Kalinak’s resignation is also demanded by the opposition. The minister was linked to corruption scandals in the past.
Slovakia’s prime minister has denied being asked by the head of Reporters Without Borders to apologize for his insults of journalists.
Prime Minister Robert Fico is known for numerous attacks on the media.
Reporters Without Borders chief Christophe Deloire met with Fico in Bratislava on Friday, days after Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova were shot dead. Afterward, Deloire said he told Fico “you should express regret and apologize for having insulted journalists on several occasions.”
Fico on Friday denied that any such request was made.
Deloire told The Associated Press “I’m really surprised, because I said it twice during the meeting without any ambiguity. He perfectly understood. The second time he answered ‘I will consider this.’”
Deloire said other media watchdogs at the meeting can confirm the comments.
Police in Slovakia have released seven Italians who were detained as suspects in the slayings of an investigative journalist and his girlfriend.
The seven men were taken into custody Thursday when police raided houses allegedly linked to members of an Italian crime syndicate.
Police confirmed their release Saturday but gave no details. The men range in age from 26 to 62. State prosecutors declined to comment.
Journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner, Martina Kusnirova, were found shot in their house Sunday. Kuciak was working on a story about the influence of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and its possible ties to people close to Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Kuciak’s funeral is scheduled for later Saturday.
The FBI, Britain’s Scotland Yard and Europol are helping with Slovak police with the investigation.