The murder of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak in Slovakia has shocked the country, and led to the swift resignation of the Slovak Culture Minister Marek Madaric.
“Plainly said, I cannot as Culture Minister put up with a journalist being murdered during my tenure,” the Minister said as he stepped down.
It has also led to the resignations of two Slovak officials that were named in the one of the last articles released by Jan Kuciak. The officials said they wanted to resign “pending the outcome of the investigation into his murder.”
A tale of two European countries
The murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta received a different response by the authorities.
Some politicians who had pending libel cases against her quickly dropped them. Others merely removed garnishee orders, and others still decided to continue with the libel cases against the slain journalist, which were passed onto her heirs.
Her family currently faces 37 ongoing libel suits.
Others spoke about the work she had done, and how it had them impacted their lives.
But no-one resigned.
Following the lead
Prime Ministers in both countries reacted in a similar way: they both offered a €1 million award to anyone who comes forward with information relating to the murder.
While it is still early and investigations are ongoing, the Slovak police chief has said it is “likely” that Kuciak and his girlfriend were murdered because of his investigative work.
Kuciek had been investigating possible links between people close to the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, and the Italian mafia.
Some have speculated the Italian mafia may have also played a part in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Italian politician Antonio Di Pietro had said that her car-bombing “had all the ingredients of a mafia style killing”.
Leaning towards transparency
The two Slovak officials who resigned – national security council secretary Viliam Jasan and Prime Minister’s aid Maria Troskova – did so after being named in a report by the late journalist.
Jan Kuciak had not suggested that either one of the officials were connected to any wrongdoing. But they resigned anyway.
Similarly, in the Netherlands just weeks ago, the Foreign Minister resigned after he admitted to lying about a meeting he had with Putin.
And two years ago, when the Panama Papers were released, the Prime Minister of Iceland resigned when links were found between his family and offshore money.
Even after the Prime Minister resigned, many people in Iceland were not happy – they said there was still so much to fix: “There is so much still to put right in this country in terms of ethics, of how the world looks at us.”
With the international press calling Malta “the centre of corruption“, and “an island of secrets and lies,” and the Maltese Prime Minister being called “the artful dodger of Europe“, maybe it is time we took a leaf out of the Europeans’ books.