A year and a half since the murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, prosecutors said that the investigation has uncovered a ring of other crimes, including four murders and planned high-level assassinations.
On Monday (19 August), two prosecutors revealed their findings in the case at a special press conference.
According to the prosecutors, several officials from various state bodies had communicated with businessman Marian Kočner, who was charged with ordering the killing of Kuciak, who was murdered along with Kušnírová in 2018.
The content of their communication went beyond the normal line of duty, according to the prosecutors, who said almost twenty other crimes were uncovered during the investigation.
Last week, the police charged four suspects with carrying out four murders and with ordering at least three other murders, whose targets were former deputy general prosecutor Peter Šufliarsky, special prosecutor Maroš Žilinka and former interior minister Daniel Lipšic, who later worked as a Kuciak’s family lawyer.
According to one of the two prosecutors, the killings did not take place thanks to sheer happenstance but he did not go into further detail. The four suspects were arrested last September and are likely to go on trial in November.
The prosecutor complained that the investigation was being obstructed and was made more difficult by persistent leaks.
“During the investigation, the activities of law enforcement bodies have been and are being constantly questioned by politicians and media. These attacks are unwarranted, and the question is to whom and for what purpose they serve. Media have become part of the manipulating game,” the prosecutor said.
The investigative team was significantly reduced following numerous leaks from the investigation. “People who shouldn’t have known about the investigation had been informed and warned,” the prosecutor added.
Controversial businessman Marian Kočner was charged with ordering Kuciak’s death and the police are currently analysing his phone messages. They found more than ten thousand messages that need detailed analysis.
His conversations contained messages from several representatives of the judiciary and other state authorities. According to prosecutors, the content of the messages has shown that other crimes had been committed.
“I consider this information to be extremely important. I fully trust the investigation team and the supervising prosecutors. This is necessary for citizens to be able to maintain their trust in law and justice,” Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová said in response to the findings.
Former President Andrej Kiska said the investigation had “confirmed my words about organised crime, which has become part of the state”.
The prosecutor also confirmed that some people were fed information about journalists and prosecutors by members of the police but they did not want to comment on who may have extracted the data from police databases.
The investigation has concluded that the shooter was probably Miroslav Marček, who confessed to the crime, though investigators had initially considered him to be only the getaway driver. The weapon has not been found yet.
“We have the barrel, we know who modified the gun, we do not have the whole gun itself,” the prosecutor said.
Kuciak was murdered in February 2018, after he uncovered fraud cases involving Kočner and politicians from then-Prime Minister Robert Fico’s Smer party.
A couple of months before his death, Kuciak told police that Kočner had threatened him. Findings of corruption sparked mass protests and Fico was forced to resign in March 2018.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]