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Slovak politician and Judge resign over links to Jan Kuciak’s murder suspect

Kuciak and his Kusnirova were shot at their home on 25 February 2018

Martin Glvac, the Vice President of the Parliament of Slovakia, was the latest politician to resign over links to Marian Kočner, the businessmen currently on trial for the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova.

When Glvac stepped down on 12 November, he pointed to two other still-serving politicians, giving them the opportunity to resign before further action was taken. They included Parliamentary Vice-Chair Bela Bugar who allegedly met with Kočner in the Maldives just after the murders took place.

Glvac remains the Head of the regional branch of the ruling Smer-SD party in Bratislava, despite published messages between him and the murder suspect revealing that he used his position to be “accommodating in matters directly related to the State.”

Two days later, Bratislava judge Miriam Repakova was forced to step down after it was revealed that she had also exchanged text messages with Kočner where she had instructed him on how to proceed with a  different court case. She is one of five members of the Slovak judiciary who are suspected of having privately communicated with the murder suspect.

Kuciak and Kusnirova were shot at their home on 25 February 2018, sparking protests across the country and on an international level.

After the murders, Prime Minister Robert Fico, Interior Minister Robert Kalinkak, Justice Ministry official Monika Janovska, and other members of the Cabinet resigned.  The Head of the police force was also dismissed. 

Writing for Slovak portal, Aktuality.se, Kuciak had been investigating links between the Italian Mafia and high-ranking Slovak politicians. The last article he published before he was killed was about Kočner’s alleged involvement in a tax evasion scandal.

In October, charges were filed against Kočner, Alena Zsuzsova, Tomas Zabo, and Miroslav Marcek. Kočner was already in custody at the time on charges of tax fraud. 

Kočner, Zabo and Zsuzsova have denied the murder charges and Marcek has confessed to being the hitman. A fifth suspect named as ‘Zoltan A’ has arranged a plea bargain with the authorities to act as a witness against the others.

Also revealed this week were text messages exchanged between Kočner and one of the suspects, Zsuzsova which appear to indicate an instruction to carry out the murder. 

According to reports in Slovak media, the prosecutors explained how Kočner sent a message including three emojis, a symbol for the number ‘50’, and an arrow pointing to the right with the word “soon” underneath, and a skull and crossbones. The murders happened 129 minutes later.

Described by Akutality.sk as “a controversial businessman living on the edge of the law”, Kočner had been at the centre of many of Kuciak’s articles.

Kuciak’s editor at Akuality.sk, Peter Bardy wrote that if Kočner had ordered the murder, he did so because he was confident that his friends and his friends’ friends would protect him from the law.

It was discovered that murder suspect Kočner had links to Malta in the form of two companies set up by the former husband of his daughter, Christian Ellul. The Maltese company Ellul & Schranz cut ties with Kočner and one company, Investment Holdings Ltd, was closed. The other company, International Finance Group is no longer managed by the Maltese company.

Ellul and his business partner, Karl Schranz, have filed two libel suits against The Shift and, separately, against Matthew Caruana Galizia, over their publication of facts surrounding the case.

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