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February 28, 2018 7:03 am | FILED UNDER: europe

Slain Journalist Jan Kuciak’s Czech Connection Is Under Police Protection

By Petr Dubinsky

The violent death of 27-year-old Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak from the daily Aktuality.sk and his partner Martina also has a Czech connection. At a press conference, which was held on Tuesday by Prime Minister Robert Fico at the Office of the Government in Bratislava, Tibor Gašpar, Slovak police president, informed the media. He did not disclose details of the Czech link, according to Respekt, the Czech connection is the investigative journalist and founder of the Czech Center for Investigative Journalism Pavla Holcová.

 

The Center has been involved in the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and international networks of investigative journalists, and the Czech journalist, with Jan Kuciak, worked together for the past year and a half to prepare an article he has failed to publish and which, according to one police hypotheses is the  motive for the double murder. The police are investigating the Mafia’s footprint in the life and death of the Slovak journalist, assume her life is also in danger. The journalist is guarded. “Do not be angry, but I do not want to, and I can not comment on it,” Pavla Holcova commented.

 

The fact that Ján Kuciak mapped the long-term operation of the Italian mafia in eastern Slovakia was announced in the Slovak media on Monday, when police confirmed his murder. The text he was about to show was that in Eastern Slovakia operations and fraudulent use of euro donations were connected to the most important Italian mafia – the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta’.  Their tentacles reach all over the world, this organization has one arm that extends to the Slovak Government Office. That is why, in the eastern part of Slovakia, farm subsidies are being managed without control.

 

Jan Kuciak, who was shot dead just before last weekend with his partner Martina in their house in Velká Mača near Bratislava, was about to publish the article in the near future. And along with him the Czech journalist Holcová. The fact that the murder of a journalist was related to the subject of his investigation in recent months is of course not definitive. Jan Kuciak also wrote about the great Slovak broads and politicians – and many of them were nervous. Similarly, the police did not exclude another motive of murder, which is not related to his work.

 

Police Director Gašpar, however, Tuesday at a press conference alongside Robert Fico again reiterated that the investigators are intensively engaged in a variant according to which the murder was related to Jana Kuciak’s journalistic topics. And the fact that Kuciak’s Czech colleague Pavla Holcová is under the protection of the Czech police suggests that the Slovak investigators consider this trail to be hot for the time being.

 

In the last two days, the heat is also premiered by Robert Fico (SMER). The Slovak media reports that the center of Kuciak’s journalistic interest was the Italian citizen Antonio Vadala connected in his original home in the south of Calabria to one of the clans of the local mafia. When he relocated to Slovakia after 2003, because his land was underground in Italy, his home was unprecedented in business: not only in agriculture, but also in real estate and energy. He met with an official from the Economy Ministry Marija Trošková and later founded the company. It is precisely Trošková, who is now a close collaborator of Robert Fico, and the Slovak media is quite openly writing that it is not just a working relationship.

 

According to the Slovak media, Jan Kuciak’s mafia has been associated with other people of the SMER government party. Fico, however, on Tuesday at a press conference, asked journalists not to associate their colleague’s murder in speculation with the people Kuciak wrote or was about to write. “If it turns out that the murder was related to journalistic work, it is an unimaginable attack on democracy. But we have other hypotheses, perhaps more relevant, it is yet to be seen that the police are working hard,” he said. And the journalist was surprised by a bunch of banknotes stacked on a table next to the microphone. “This is a million euros from the Treasury of the Treasury,” said the Prime Minister, “a reward to help clarify the case.”

 

The text that Kuciak has been working on for the past few months has already put his colleagues to the end and is about to release it in the next few hours, not later than days. The text is also published by the Czech Investigative Journalism Center and will also be published in foreign media.

 

This article has been translated from the original written by Ivana Svobodová  first published on Respekt

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