Slovak tycoon Kocner cleared of murder of journalist and fiancée

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image captionThe murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova sparked protests in Slovakia

A court has found businessman Marian Kocner not guilty of ordering the killing of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, in an attack that rocked Slovakia.

The murders triggered mass protests, leading to the downfall of populist PM Robert Fico’s government.

Another man has been jailed for 25 years for taking part in the murder.

But judges found that prosecutors had failed to prove Mr Kocner and a third defendant had ordered the killings.

Their acquittals were announced by the court in Pezinok, north of the capital Bratislava.

Prosecutors are likely to appeal against the verdict, which came as a shock, reports BBC correspondent Rob Cameron.

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image captionMarian Kocner had pleaded not guilty during the high-profile trial

Jan Kuciak and fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in his house near Bratislava on 21 February 2018, in the first such targeted killing of a journalist in Slovak history. They were both 27.

In April, former soldier Miroslav Marcek was jailed for 23 years after admitting to carrying out the killings and another suspect was jailed for facilitating the attack.

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Kuciak worked for as an investigative reporter. He wrote about corrupt businessmen in Slovakia, EU subsidy and VAT fraud, as well as Italy’s notorious ’Ndrangheta mafia and its attempts to cultivate relationships with Slovak politicians.

Mr Kocner featured prominently in Kuciak’s articles. Prosecutors said Mr Kocner had ordered the attack but he always denied involvement. An acquaintance of Mr Kocner, Alena Zsuzsova, was also acquitted.

media captionThe protests are thought to be the largest since the fall of communism

Related Topics

  • Slovakia

  • Corruption
  • Journalism

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