September 3rd, 2020

Businessman Acquitted in Murder of Jan Kuciak, Journalist in Slovakia

Businessman Acquitted in Murder of Jan Kuciak, Journalist in Slovakia

Marian Kocner was acquitted of ordering the 2018 killing of an investigative journalist that set off anticorruption protests.

PEZINOK, Slovakia — After eight months of a closely watched trial, Marian Kocner — once one of Slovakia’s most powerful and well-connected businessmen — was acquitted on Thursday of ordering the murder of an investigative journalist who had threatened to expose a web of corruption involving the nation’s political and corporate elites and organized crime.

The verdict, handed down by a special criminal court that handles the country’s most serious cases, can be appealed in Slovakia’s Supreme Court. It is likely to draw scrutiny, because the murder ignited outrage across Slovakia and led to calls for reform.

The journalist, Jan Kuciak, 27, was shot and killed with his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, in February 2018 in his home in Velka Maca, a village outside Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava.

Their bodies were discovered days after the murder, and as evidence mounted that Mr. Kuciak was the target of an assassination, the killings set off the largest nationwide protests since the 1989 Velvet Revolution. The protests brought hundreds of thousands of people to the streets calling for a thorough investigation and condemning the systemic corruption that has long plagued the small Central European nation.

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