Court finds influential businessman not guilty of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak’s murder

Updated 12:40 PM
REUTERS/Radovan Stoklasa

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A Slovak court ruled on Thursday that an influential businessman was not guilty in the case of the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak, the presiding judge said.

The court found one other defendant guilty of taking part in the murder, but did not find evidence the hit was ordered by businessman Marian Kocner.

The murder prompted mass street protests and led to the reshaping of the country’s political landscape.

Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, were gunned down in their home outside Bratislava in February 2018, in a killing that mirrored the murder in Malta four months earlier of another journalist investigating corruption, Daphne Caruana Galizia.

The journalist’s murder forced then prime minister and longtime leader Robert Fico to step down. A new government was elected in March this year on the pledge to clean up sleaze.

Bringing Kuciak’s killers to justice has been a test of Slovakia’s judicial and political system, long seen as susceptible to corruption.

The verdict has been postponed from August, and it is still possible that it may be postponed again after the prosecution asked to present additional evidence.

Prosecutors say Slovak entrepreneur Marian Kocner, the subject of Kuciak’s reporting on corruption involving politically connected business people, had ordered the killing of the reporter. Kocner denied the charge.

The investigation has forced the resignation of several senior politicians and judicial officials on account of their previous links to Kocner. Prosecutors are seeking a 25-year jail sentence for Kocner and for each of his two co-defendants.