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Six months since Jan Kuciak’s murder, journalists say they will not forget

Slovakian Journalists and editors are concerned that killers of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, will escape with impunity as no one was arrested for their murders six months down the line.

Kuciak was an investigative journalist looking into high-level corruption cases and high-level links between the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate and top Slovak politicians, the International Press Institute said in a statement.

Having revealed that Italian businessmen with links to organised crime had been laundering EU funds intended as development assistance, and previously published evidence of tax fraud involving several businessmen close to the governing Smer-SD party, Kuciak clearly made the ruling elite uncomfortable, the organisation said.

The couple were shot in their apartment block – a crime that led to mass protests across Slovakia leading to the resignation of former Prime Minister Robert Fico and his cabinet.

This gave the impression that change was on the way, but little progress has been made so far. No arrests have been made and many Slovaks suspect that the government changes since Kuciak’s murder amount to nothing more than a smokescreen, with the strings still being pulled by the same characters, the IPI said.

“We have a police president who had connections to the mafia – this is very toxic”, Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of the news site Aktuality.sk, where Kuciak worked, told IPI. “And the same people are in control as before.”

As in Malta, transparency is a problem. When there is a chance that information damaging to the governing party could be revealed, there is simply no cooperation from the ministry, IPI said.

“If anyone hopes that Ján Kuciak and the murder will sink into oblivion, they are terribly wrong. We will keep asking questions and we will keep reminding the public that the murder of a journalist is an alarming red line in a society.”

“For the first three months after the murder, there was a huge movement”, Bárdy said. “But now the demonstrations have stopped.”

His murder, together with that of Daphne Caruana Galizia, led to EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová offering the full support of her office to investigate the crimes, which “cannot be tolerated”.

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