Slovak reporter Jan Kuciak and his partner have been shot dead in an attack “likely” tied to his reporting, officials say. Kuciak went to the police last year after receiving threats, but the case was reportedly ignored.
Investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend were shot to death in their home east of the Slovak capital Bratislava, authorities said on Monday.
“The evidence indicates that the murder was planned and did not result from a spontaneous confrontation,” police president Tibor Gaspar said.
Gaspar added that the killings “likely have something to do with his investigative activities” but did not elaborate further.
The 27-year-old’s investigative work at the news portal Aktuality.sk focused primarily on tax evasion.
Police went to check on the home on Sunday after the girlfriend’s mother said she hadn’t heard from her daughter since Thursday. Both victims sustained multiple gunshot wounds.
Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said that if Kuciak’s murder was tied to his work, the case would be “an unprecedented attack on freedom of the press and democracy in Slovakia.”
President Andrej Kiska urged a quick investigation into the murders, saying in a statement: “We have to find those who did it as soon as possible and ensure the safety of all journalists.”
Uncovering tax evasion
Kuciak’s work at Aktuality.sk primarily involved suspected tax fraud involving high-ranking officials and businesspeople.
In his last story for the site, Kuciak reported on suspected tax fraud connected with a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava.
Last year, Kuciak filed a complaint with police after businessman Marian Kocner threatened him. Kocner is known for real estate deals as well as for insulting reporters and threatening to publish private information on journalists, according to the Slovak newspaper SME.
Kuciak said police never acted on the case.
The editors-in-chief of major media outlets in Slovakia called on the government to take steps to find out who committed the crime and “also to create conditions for the safe work of journalists.”
rs/tj (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)