On October 6, 2018, Bulgarian presenter and administrative director of local television channel TVN, Viktoria Marinova, was found dead in a park by the river Danube in the town of Ruse, 300 km (185 miles) northeast of the capital Sofia; she had been raped, beaten, and strangled, according to media reports. She was 30 years old, the reports said.
Marinova's last broadcast was an interview with Romanian journalist Attila Biro from the investigative news website Rise Project and his Bulgarian counterpart, Dimitar Stoyanov, from investigative news website Bivol, who were looking into allegations of fraud involving EU funds for the global investigative reporting platform Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), Bulgarian news site Terminal 3 reported. The two reporters had been detained by Bulgarian police for several hours in September, CPJ documented at the time.
At a press conference on October 7, 2018, the Ruse prosecution office and local police stated that they would look at "all versions" of the murder, and said that it was not clear whether the murder was linked to Marinova's journalistic activities, Balkan Insight reported. Marinova’s mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing, Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said, according to the Guardian.
On October 10, 2018, the Bulgarian chief prosecutor announced that a Bulgarian man was detained in Germany. Bulgarian authorities filed charges of rape and murder, and were expecting Germany to transfer the suspect to their territory, Reuters reported. According to the Guardian, Bulgaria’s interior minister identified the man as Severin Krasimirov and said there was physical evidence to link Krasimirov to the murder. The minister said investigators had spoken to the journalist’s family and friends and added that there was no evidence to suggest that the murder was related to Marinova’s work and there was no information she had been threatened, according to reports.
On October 17, Germany extradited Krasimirov, 20, to Bulgaria, according to reports. On October 19, Bulgarian prosecutors charged Krasimirov with murder and the district court in Ruse ordered him held in custody pending trial. If convicted, Krasimirov could be sentenced to life in prison, Voice of America reported. According to reports, some prominent investigative journalists in Bulgaria said they were concerned about the investigation and did not trust the authorities’ version of events.