The Slovak businessman who stands accused of ordering the murder of Jan Kuciak allegedly attempted to blackmail the investigative journalist before his death, according to new details emerging from the case. The indictment against Martin Kocner, who is among four people charged for the murder of Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova alleges that he decided to have the journalist killed after he failed to find any compromising information with which to blackmail him.
Kocner found “no dirt” to discredit Kuciak, leading him to the decision to “physically get rid of him and thus prevent further revelations about his activities,” according to the news site aktuality.sk which published the indictment. The last article published by Jan Kuciak was about Kocner’s 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.
27-year-old Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home in Velka Maca, 65 kilometers east of Bratislava on February 25, 2018. The reporter had researched links between the Italian mafia and Slovak politicians.
According to previous reports, Kocner is suspected of paying 70,000 euros to have Kuciak murdered.
In October 2018, one of Kocner’s co-accused 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.
Investigators have also revealed that Kocner exchanged thousands of messages with senior government officials, including former justice ministry state secretary, Monika Jankovska, in an attempt to gain favour with judges.
Jankovska was forced to resign in September and is facing disciplinary proceedings.