On the eve of the Slovak presidential elections, it seems that the jigsaw concerning the cold-blooded murder of Jan Kuciak has one more piece. It is now being widely reported that Marian Kocner a prominent businessman has been charged with ordering the killing of Jan Kuciak and his wife-to-be.
Jan Kuciak was an investigative journalist attempting to reveal links between Slovak politicians, the Italian mafia and prominent Slovak businessmen.
The Slovak public remain deeply sceptical about how deep this scandal truly goes, given that it caused the ex-PM and his associates to publicly apologise and resign, give the scale of the protests he was faced with. 100,000’s of thousands of people has taken to the street in a country that’s population totals under 6 million inhabitants. The campaign named ‘All for Jan’ has remnants of the Velvet Revolution, which effectively saw the beginning of the transition to democracy after 40 years of Communist rule. Many of the characteristics remain, such as the jingling of keys.
It is a scandal that has brought deeply embedded corruption in the Slovak state to prominence, after years of perseverance with Robert Fico (the ex-PM) at the helm and the mobsters he protected and surrounded himself with were finally made to leave frontline politics. The murder saw Fico resign and brought people together to protest against the draining of public funds and the large-scale visible corruption that the Slovak people had learned to tolerate.
In one of his final press conferences, Robert Fico called the murder, ‘an attack on democracy, the freedom of the press and the freedom of the media.’ Yet, fast forward to 2019 in what has been labelled as Fico’s revenge, the Slovak Parliament is attempting to implement a law which would see editors have to publish statements by politicians or officials named in articles regardless of whether their response bared any truth. Not doing so would be mean a fine of up to 5000 euros. SMER, Fico’s party tried to implement the law in 2011, but was forced to step back from the legislation after it was met with wide deep criticism internationally and domestically. The Slovak President, has vowed to veto the legislation.
“Kočner had influential friends in politics, the police, and the prosecutors. They protected him.”
Peter Bardy – Editor in Chief of Dennik, the Newspaper that Jan worked for had the following to say:
Just last year the EU’s anti-fraud office announced that Slovakia was under investigation for the misuse of EU funds. The EU also suspended some payments to the Slovak state after spending irregularities had been overcovered in some state ministries. The Slovak media widely reported it as corruption, which Fico oversaw and had direct knowledge of. Jan Kuciak was investigating these very stories.
“There is a potentially systemic misuse of EU funds in Slovakia. We are very concerned that EU funds and agriculture subsidies could be
siphonedoff to fund criminal activities.’
MEP’s in a letter to the European Anti-Fraud Office.
In October, 2018 the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed that the bounty placed on the journalist’s head was 70,000 euros. Kocner who is said to have made the payment has been in custody since June 2018 relating to charges of fraud.
Analysis by Deputy Editor in Chief – Seb Chromiak
It seems not long ago that Vladimir Meciar was terrorising the free-press and his political opposition. These thoughts are so suddenly rejuvenated. Slovakia has been a country that has laid low under the radar, with the EU content with their blistering growth in recent years, the domestic affairs have been left be. All of a sudden, such an image has been shattered and rightly so, I have no doubt whatsoever that the work of Kuciak (when finished) would have uncovered some of the grimmest and darkest secrets that the Slovak establishment had to offer.
Though to take someone else’s life, how bad must it have been? How deep must this have run, who might have been exposed in such a scandal? These are questions for future journalists, who will likely work in fear of exposing a deeply corrupt and callous establishment. The irony is that for so many years, the Slovak people were so fed up and resigned to the fact that this was occurring that they let the politicians be. Now you have a resurgent opposition that looks likely to push the governing party. This is a
As for his fiance, she did quite literally nothing wrong. May they both rest in peace, with the knowledge that someone, somewhere is picking up the pieces and will expose what Jan was attempting to.