Tributes and remembrance ceremonies on two-year mark of Jan Kuciak murder

Tributes were paid and ceremonies of remembrance were held this week in commemoration of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova who were shot in their home on 21 February 2018.

The journalist’s assassination was carried out merely four months after that of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, resulting in two journalists in EU countries being killed for their work within a six-month period.

Matthew Caruana Galizia, son of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia paid tribute to the couple in Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava. The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) held a remembrance ceremony outside Nikolaikirche’s Freedom Pillar in Leipzig.

Candles were also placed for the couple at the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta.

“(Those) who tried to silence Jàn were sorely mistaken. If you murder a journalist, you will not silence their work”, ECPMF’s Lutz Kinkel said on the day of commemoration. 

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Representative on Freedom of the Media (OSCE), Harlem Désir also paid tribute to Kuciak and Kusnirova.

Désir said that Kuciak paid a heavy price for unveiling corruption cases. He has become the symbol for a generation that fights for more transparency and democracy.

“Slovak society seems keen on ensuring that there is no impunity for killing journalists and I hope that justice will finally be served in this case. This horrendous crime cannot remain unpunished,” he added.

Their murders were also commemorated on the front page of two of Slovakia’s newspapers.

Kuciak was a journalist known for his investigative reporting into cases of suspected fraud in Slovakia, as well as for his work with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and its outlet, Aktuality.sk.

Kuciak was also a partner of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and was involved in a number of OSCE events.

Before his murder, Kuciak filed two complaints with the prosecutor’s office after receiving several threats.

Court proceedings into the murders are ongoing. Four people are on trial in connection with the murders – businessman Marian Kočner, his close associate Alena Zsuzsová, and the two hired assassins Miroslav Macek and Tomáš Szabó.

In the last session of the trial on 22 January, Miroslav Kriak, one of the men hired to follow Ján Kuciak and other journalists said in his testimony that he was hired by the former chief of Slovak counterintelligence Peter Toth in a spying operation that supposed to cost €130,000.

Kriak had taken several photographs of Kuciak, which now form part of the evidence presented in the trial against Kočner.

The police have opened a separate case regarding the surveillance of journalists in 2017-2018.

The killings had sparked large scale protests across Slovakia and another 17 other cities around the world. Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and his government had resigned en masse after allegations surfaced that they were either complicit or negligent in the deaths.

The trial is expected to draw to an end in the next few months.

Read: Kuciak ’embodied human kindness’, killed in cold blood

                           
                               
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