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Bulgarians mourns slain journalist amid calls for international independent investigation

Viktoria Marinova
Viktoria Marinova

Bulgarians across the country mourned the death of 30-year old investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova with candle-lit vigils, with the largest crowds turning out in her hometown of Ruse, where she was brutally assaulted and murdered in broad daylight on Saturday.

Some of the people attending the vigil at St Nedelya Square in Sofia also went on to protest against corruption and called for government officials to resign.

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay joined several international organisations, including the European Union, calling on the authorities to identify those responsible for the murder as a matter of urgency. PN Head of Delegation MEP David Casa has called on the European Commission to launch an independent public inquiry.

Azoulay urged the authorities to “conduct a thorough investigation into this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice”, noting that “attacks on journalists erode the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and its corollaries, press freedom and free access to information”.

“Moreover, the use of sexual and physical abuse to silence a woman journalist, is an outrage against the dignity and basic human rights of every woman,” Azoulay said.

The percentage of women media professionals killed worldwide, rose from 4% in 2012 to 14% in 2017, UNESCO said.

A man taken into custody in Bulgaria in connection with the killing was released due to lack of evidence that he was involved, Bulgarian police said on 9 October.

Marinova’s last report was based on an in-depth story by investigative journalists of the Bivol website on large-scale fraud linked to the misuse of EU funds.

Bivol has called for an independent international investigation. Its journalist was one of the two arrested while investigating the corruption case, and their arrest, along with their findings, were the subject of Marinova’s last work.

Bivol said government statements that the murder was unrelated to the journalist’s investigative work was nothing more than “State propaganda”.

Marinova is the third journalist murdered in the European Union over the past 12 months. Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in October 2017 when a bomb exploded under her car a few metres away from her home, and investigative reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancee were shot in their own home in Slovakia in February this year.

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