Slovak authorities have charged four people in connection with the 2018 murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, according to statement by the Special Prosecutors’ office on Monday.
The suspects were named as Marian Kocner, Alena Zsuzsova, Tomas Szabo and Miroslav Marcek. A state prosecutors spokeswoman said in a statement that the six charges filed included pre-meditated murder, for which they could face between 25 years and life in prison if found guilty.
27-year-old Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home in Velka Maca, 65 kilometres east of Bratislava on February 25, 2018. The reporter had researched links between the Italian mafia and Slovak politicians.
According to previous reports, businessman Marian Kocner, who has been in prison for corruption since June last year, is suspected of paying 70,000 euros to have Kuciak murdered.
The last article published by Jan Kuciak in February was about Kocner’s alleged involvement in a tax evasion scandal linked to a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava. Kocner was later found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to prison in June 2018.
In October 2018, Alena Zsuzsova was identified by investigators as having ordered the hit on Kuciak. Zsuzsova, who worked as an interpreter for Kocner and is married to his son, was said at the time to have acted in an intermediary role between the sponsor of the murder and the person who carried it out.
In April 2019, ex-soldier Miroslav Marcek confessed to committing the double murder.
According to the prosecutors’ office, the investigation file is more than 25,000 pages long and 49 witnesses will be called to testify at the trial, Slovak media reports.
The journalist’s killing led to a political crisis in the country after it emerged that he was investigating connections between the ‘Ndrangheta mafia and two advisers to the then prime minister, Robert Fico.
The murders led to the dismissal of the head of the national police and the collapse of the government, with the former Prime Minister Robert Fico and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak both resigning amid popular anger of their handling of the case.
Voter indignation led to the victory of lawyer Zuzana Caputova, a political newcomer who campaigned on an anticorruption ticket, in Slovakia’s presidential elections in March.