Bratislava, February 19, 2019–The Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Press Institute (IPI) called on Slovak authorities to expedite charges against all parties allegedly involved in the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak. A delegation from the two groups today met with Ministry of Interior officials and representatives of the special prosecutor’s office tasked with investigating the murder, which took place a year ago this week.
Authorities have charged four individuals with carrying out the murder of Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, on February 21, 2018, but they have not publicly identified or charged a suspected mastermind. Officials in the special prosecutors’ office told CPJ and IPI today that their main aim was to “identify and prove guilty” the person or persons who ordered the crime and that they were “very close” to announcing who this was.
“The sooner Slovak authorities deliver on their promise of justice for Ján Kuciak, the sooner they will address the serious concerns of Slovakia’s journalistic community, its general public, and international institutions about a lack of political will to solve the case,” said Tom Gibson, CPJ’s EU representative.
Kuciak’s work uncovered allegations of tax fraud and financial crime, implicating prominent political and business leaders in Slovakia. The murders sparked large protests and the resignation of the former prime minister, interior minister, and chief of police.
“The Slovak authorities must ensure that no stone is unturned in the investigation no matter how politically sensitive those leads could be,” IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “We are positive about reported progress so far in the investigation – but are concerned about any further delay. Justice will only be achieved when all those responsible are behind bars.”
During today’s meetings, CPJ and IPI also called on the Slovak authorities to ensure journalists’ safety and respect for freedom of the media more broadly.
“Securing justice in the case of Jan Kuciak is essential, but it is also critical that the Slovak authorities put in place an action plan to prevent such attacks from occurring in the future,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “Any future success in this investigation should not be an excuse to sweep the issue of journalists’ safety under the rug.”
By Hafsa Gulnur Erdogdu