Slovak prosecutors said Monday they are probing judicial and state officials over the 2018 murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, which triggered a political crisis and raised concerns about corruption.
The probe’s announcement comes after local media leaked alleged text messages in which the suspects boasted of their ties to several top-level politicians including then prime minister Robert Fico.
He was forced to resign because of the fallout from the killing.
“Representatives of state authorities at various levels communicated with Marian” Kocner, the entrepreneur charged with ordering the murder, an unnamed special prosecutor told reporters, without providing details about the individuals. “I urge these people to come forward and personally explain this communication at this stage,” he said, adding that prosecutors have reason to believe the officials committed crimes.
Journalist Jan Kuciak, 27, had been investigating Kocner’s business activities when he and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were gunned down at home in February 2018.
Mass anti-government protests forced Fico to resign, but he remains the leader of the governing populist-left Smer-SD party and is a close ally of current Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini.
Prosecutors have charged five people over the double murder, including property developer Kocner and his one-time interpreter, named as Alena Zs.
Kocner maintains his innocence, according to his lawyer Marek Para, who did not refute the authenticity of the leaked text messages to reporters but said their contents make clear “that they don’t concern the act (of murder) at all.”
In his leaked chats with Alena Zs., which the police have examined, Kocner refers to Fico as “Squarehead”, a widely used nickname for the politician.