International

Fourth person charged in Slovak journalist's murder

A 44-year-old woman was charged in the murder of a Slovak journalist, the prosecutor's office said Sunday in a case that sent thousands into the streets and toppled a prime minister.

Up to five thousands of Slovak protesters attend a gathering 'For Decent Slovakia' on September 28, 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia, seven months after the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kusnirova
Up to five thousands of Slovak protesters attend a gathering 'For Decent Slovakia' on September 28, 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia, seven months after the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiance Martina Kusnirova (AFP)

A 44-year-old woman was charged in the murder of a Slovak journalist, the prosecutor's office said Sunday in a case that sent thousands into the streets and toppled a prime minister.

"We can confirm that a woman identified as A. Z. was charged with the extremely serious crime of complicity in a murder," prosecutor spokeswoman Andrea Predajnova said in a statement.

The Slovak daily Dennik N wrote Sunday the woman, who is the fourth suspect arrested, had "ordered" the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in February.

But Daniel Lipsic, a lawyer for the Kuciak family, said the woman was more of an intermediary because "the murderer absolutely could not know who ordered the crime."

Local media said the woman had worked as an interpreter for Slovak entrepreneur Marian Kocner, whose business activities were the subject of an investigation by Kuciak.

He was probing alleged links between Italian organised crime and Slovak politicians when he and Kusnirova were murdered at their home.

The killing raised concerns about media freedom and corruption in the EU member state of 5.4 million people and sparked protests that culminated in the resignation of prime minister Robert Fico in March.