A 42-year-old Slovak man was sentenced on Monday to 15 years in prison for his part in the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancé in 2018, according to reports in Slovak media. Zoltan Andrusko pleaded guilty to playing “a mediating role” in the double murder in exchange for abut this was rejected by the court, which proposed a 15-year sentence that was accepted by the defence. In a statement, Andrusko’s legal team said they have “no objections to the sentence” and stressed that “the defendant not only confessed but regretted it,” adding that “he is cooperating with the Police”.
Four other defendants – Marian Kocner, Alena Zsuzsova, Tomas Szabo and Miroslav Marcek – maintain their innocence and continue to face trial.
The lead suspect, millionaire 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.
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.
The trial resumes in January. If found guilty the four suspects face sentences of up to life in prison.