Brussels, September 3, 2020—In response to the acquittal of businessman Marián Kočner in the trial for murder of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, the Committee to Project Journalists issued the following statement:
“We are surprised and disappointed that the long investigation into Ján Kuciak’s murder has ended with the acquittal of the suspected mastermind, and urge prosecutors to appeal today’s verdict,” said Tom Gibson, CPJ’s EU representative. “Journalists in Slovakia will not feel safe to go about their crucial work until all perpetrators of this heinous crime have met the full force of the law.”
According to news reports, Judge Ružena Sabová at the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok cleared Kočner, and one co-defendant, Alena Zsuzsová, of murder, while a third defendant, Tomáš Szabó, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role. All three had pleaded not guilty.
Kuciak, an investigative reporter looking into corruption, was the first journalist killed for his work in Slovakia, according to CPJ research.
[Editors’ Note: The first paragraph was updated to correct the dateline.]