Matthew Caruana Galizia has spoken out against the acquittal of the alleged mastermind in the killing of two Slovak investigative journalists on Twitter calling the decision: “Shocking, terrible news from Slovakia.”
Marian Kocner, a well connected businessman and co-defendant, Alena Zsuzsová, stood accused of ordering the murders of Slovak investigative journalists Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova.
The Kuciaks were shot and killed in their home in 2018, only four months after Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb in Malta. Parallels were immediately drawn between the two killings. Both had relentlessly investigated corruption, which ran deep into the highest level of the country’s politics and were assassinated for it.
Today, a panel of judges in Slovakia acquitted Marian Kocner and co-defendant, Alena Zsuzsová, citing a lack of evidence to substantially prove their involvement in the murder. A third defendant, Tomáš Szabó, has already been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the murders.
Jan Kuciak, who worked for the news portal Aktuality.sk, was pivotal in uncovering several shady and corrupt business dealings controlled by Mr. Kocner.
In September 2017, six months before his murder, he received a phone call from the powerful businessman.
“You are being very personal, you are a bad person who is being tasked by someone, and I will find out who you’re working for,“ Mr. Kocner said in the call, according to a transcript published by Aktuality.sk. “I’m going to take a special interest in you, your mother, your father and your siblings.”
Mr. Kuciak reported the threat, but it was never investigated. Mr. Kocner, however, maintained that he would never have ordered the murder of a journalist.
“I’m not a saint, but I’m not a murderer either,” he said in his final statement on July 31. “And I’m definitely not dumb enough to not realize what a murder of a journalist might cause.”