Prosecutors: $81,000 paid for Slovak journalist slaying
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — A total sum of 70,000 euros ($81,000) was paid for the contract slayings of a Slovak investigative journalist and his fiancee, a prosecutor said Monday.
A prosecutor in the case whose name wasn’t given told a news conference that 50,000 euros were paid and the remaining 20,000 euros were a forgiven debt. Special prosecutors, who deal with the most serious crimes, are never identified for their own protection.
Slovak investigators and prosecutors revealed some details of the latest development in the investigation for the first time since the arrest of four suspects last week who have been charged by police with murder in the case.
Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home on Feb. 21. Slovak authorities said they believed it was a contract killing linked to Kuciak’s work — he was investigating possible widespread government corruption and ties between Slovak politicians and Italian mobsters.
The killings triggered a political crisis that resulted in major protests, the dismissal of the national police chief and the government’s collapse.
The prosecutor said the person who paid for the killing as well as the one who they believed committed the crime are among the four suspects.
The prosecutor also clarified that the sum was paid for the killing “of a particular person, Jan Kuciak.”
″(Kusnirova) was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Prosecutor General Jaromir Ciznar, who was present at the news conference.
Ciznar said that an international team has been working on the case, with Europol being particularly helpful.
The officials have identified the four suspects only by their initials.
But they confirmed the Slovak media reports that the suspected triggerman is a former police officer.
The 27-year-old reporter was shot in the chest and his girlfriend was shot in the head in their house in the town of Velka Maca, east of the capital, Bratislava.
The prosecutors said “it is highly likely” that a woman arrested in the southern town of Komarno paid the sum “but the question is where’s the money from,” suggesting there’s someone else who ordered the slaying.