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Tuesday November 30, 2021

Ex-Slovak soldier gets 23 years in jail for killing journalist

By AFP
April 08, 2020

Bratislava: A Slovak court on Monday sentenced ex-soldier Miroslav Marcek to 23 years in prison for gunning down an investigative journalist in 2018, a killing that exposed high-level political corruption and led to the ouster of the governing party.

Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were shot dead at home on the alleged orders of well-connected Slovak entrepreneur Marian Kocner, whose business activities the reporter had been probing.

The court in the southwestern town of Pezinok said it gave Marcek, 37, a lighter sentence than requested by prosecutors because he pleaded guilty and had cooperated with police after his arrest.

"The court wanted the verdict to show that it is important to confess and assist in exposing not only violent crimes but also corruption," said Judge Ruzena Sabova, as quoted by the actuality.sk news website where Kuciak had been employed.

The double murder helped oust the populist-left Smer-Social Democracy party from power in the February general election, which was won by Igor Matovic’s anti-graft OLaNO party. According to the indictment, Kocner decided "to get rid of Jan Kuciak physically and thus prevent further disclosure of his (Kocner’s) activities" after failing to find "any dirt" to discredit the journalist. Kocner has pleaded not guilty to ordering the hit on Kuciak. His murder trial is set to continue in April. Marcek will also have to provide Kuciak’s parents with 140,000 euros ($151,000) in financial compensation, and pay Kusnirova’s family 70,000 euros.