EU parliament demands independent probe into Slovak reporter’s murder

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) Claude Moraes (R), Ingeborg Graessle (2-L), Sophie in 't Veld (L) and the Mayor of Velka Maca Stefan Lancz (2-R) pay their respects to the murdered journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in Velka Maca, Slovakia, 9 March 2018. [Jakub Gavlak/EPA/EFE]

The European Parliament called Thursday (19 April) on Slovakia to ensure a full and independent investigation into the murder of an investigative reporter while demanding better protections for all journalists in the EU.

The appeal was adopted by 573 MEPs — with 27 against and 47 abstentions — after journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were shot dead in Slovakia in February.

EU demands justice for murdered Slovak journalist

The European Union called on Monday for the killers of a Slovak journalist to be brought to justice after the weekend murder of Ján Kuciak raised questions about organised crime and corruption in the EU state.

“MEPs called on Slovak authorities to deploy all necessary resources to ensure a full, thorough and independent investigation of the double murder,” the parliament said in a statement.

They said it was preferable that European police agency Europol join the investigation.

“They also urge them to protect investigative journalists from any form of intimidation and defamation charges and from attacks aimed at silencing them,” it added.

With mass street protests since the murders, Slovakia has been plunged into a political crisis that has forced the cabinet and police chief to resign.

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Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico resigned on Thursday (15 March), as the governing three-party coalition seeks to cling to power after the murder of an investigative journalist provoked the country’s biggest protests since the fall of communism.

Critics had argued that Police Chief Tibor Gaspar’s alleged political connections prevented a fair investigation into the murder of Kuciak who had been probing alleged ties between top politicians and the Italian mafia.

Kuciak’s murder occurred months after anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was assassinated by a car bomb on 16 October in Malta.

Murder of Malta’s top investigative journalist provokes shock and outrage

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta’s top investigative journalist, was killed on Monday (16 October) when the car she was driving exploded shortly after she left her home.

Eighteen international media outlets are pursuing their own investigation into Galizia’s murder as her sons accuse the Maltese government of handling the case like a public relations campaign.

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Marking six months since the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, an international consortium of journalists has started publishing further revelations aimed at uncovering the truth about her assassination and making sure her investigations live on.

The blogger had made repeated and detailed corruption allegations against Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and members of his inner circle, as well as the opposition.

“The murders of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak are an attempt to undermine our fundamental values and a blow to the rule of law in the European Union,” European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said.

The MEPs also condemned “insulting comments” some EU politicians made towards journalists and urged all EU countries to protect the personal safety and livelihoods of investigative journalists and whistle-blowers.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico once told journalists they were “dirty, anti-Slovak whores” and used terms like “plain, silly hyenas” and “slimy snakes” to describe the media.

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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico has ended his country’s EU Presidency on a sour note by calling journalists who reported allegations of accounting tweaks by his government as “dirty, anti-Slovak prostitutes.”

The MEPs called for better protection of journalists subjected to frequent lawsuits “intended to censor their work” and for “a permanent EU scheme to support independent investigative journalism.”

It also called for “better monitoring of media ownership concentration.”

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