Almost seven months after the murder of an investigative journalist in Slovakia, an EU delegation has expressed concern about the state of law in the country. Five EU parliamentarians were briefed on Monday and Tuesday on the state of the murder investigation and what, if any, progress has been made by the Slovak government in the fight against corruption and the protection of journalists.
The delegation acknowledged the determination of the police and the judiciary to investigate the murder, said delegation leader Sophie in ‘t Veld of the liberal ALDE group on Tuesday evening in front of journalists in Bratislava. However, there are still serious concerns about corruption, conflicts of interest and the impunity of politicians. Specifically, the Dutch politician criticised officials who were forced to resign because of allegations of corruption or other misdemeanors, only to be granted new leadership positions shortly afterwards.
“We are glad to see that the investigation into the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée seems to be advancing. Justice needs to be served, first for the families of the victims, but also to guarantee the safety of all journalists and for the sake of democracy… But we still see corruption, too many conflicts of interest and impunity, the MEP said.”
Sophie in’t Veld referenced ex-Interior Minister Robert Kalinak who stepped down as a result of mass protests against the police handling of the Jan Kuciak case, and has been named in another of other scandals, but as a vice party chief of the ruling Social Democrats still exercises a lot of political influence. “Corruption appears in every state, but the involvement of the minister is especially concerning,” said Sophie in’t Veld, as quoted by Slovak media.
Journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancé Martina Kusnirova were shot dead on 21 February in their home in the western Slovak village of Velka Maca. Kuciak had had been investigating the close relationship between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia when they were killed. His unfinished reporting on possible links between Italian mafia clans and Slovak government officials was not published until after his death. It triggered mass demonstrations against corruption and abuse of EU funding. As a result of the protests, the government and the police chief resigned.