Sunday 18 November 2018

Suspect held over murder of reporter in corruption story

Exposing corruption: Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova. Photo: REUTERS
Exposing corruption: Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova. Photo: REUTERS

Tom Barnes

European leaders have condemned the death of TV journalist Viktoria Marinova, whose body was found in Bulgaria on Saturday.

A suspect has reportedly been arrested in connection with the rape and murder of the Bulgarian journalist, who had recently highlighted possible government corruption.

The individual being held over the killing of Ms Marinova is a "Romanian citizen with a passport from Moldova", according to unconfirmed reports from Bulgaria's interior ministry broadcast on national radio.

Ms Marinova (30) had hosted a show last month reporting on two investigative journalists who had been detained for their work surrounding a suspected fraud involving European Union funds.

The presenter's body was found dumped in a park in the city of Ruse, close to the banks of the Danube River, on Saturday.

Following the programme hosted by Ms Marinova, Bulgaria's interior ministry said prosecutors were investigating GP Group, a large construction company alleged to have misused the EU money, and froze €14m in assets.

Need for free press: EC President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: PA
Need for free press: EC President Jean-Claude Juncker. Photo: PA

While the reporter did not appear to have been intimately involved in uncovering the alleged fraud, her show touched on a sensitive subject in Bulgaria, where corruption is endemic.

Early yesterday, volunteers combed bushes and ground in the park where Ms Marinova's body was found in an effort to find clues that could help police find her killer.

Local people observed a vigil overnight on Monday, where flowers and lit candles were laid in front of her image.

European leaders have expressed their shock at the killing.

Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, said the commission expected "a swift and thorough investigation" that would "bring those responsible to justice and clarify whether this attack was linked to her work".

He quoted Mr Juncker as saying previously that "too many" journalists are being intimidated, attacked or murdered and that "there is no democracy without a free press".

The German government has also sharply condemned the killing, with its foreign ministry saying that it was imperative there was a fast investigation into the "horrible event".

Bulgarian interior minister Mladen Marinov had insisted on Monday that there was no evidence to suggest the killing was linked to Ms Marinova's work.

Ms Marinova was a director of TVN, a small TV station, and a TV presenter for two investigative programmes.

Journalists' groups and foreign officials, including Harlem Desir, the media freedom representative of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, have demanded a "full and thorough investigation" into Ms Marinova's death. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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