Jan Kuciak: Slovak man charged over double murder

A woman places a candle in front of a portrait of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova in the centre of Bratislava

Updated: Suspect charged with ordering killing of Slovak reporter

Slovak prosecutors have charged a Slovak businessman with ordering the murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée a year ago - a case that triggered mass protests.

People place light tributes during a rally to mark one year anniversary of the slayings of an investigative reporter and his fiancee, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019.

Special prosecutors named the suspect only as Marian K. during a televised news conference that marked a major step forward in the case that rocked the central European state.

The the prosecutor said Kocner, who has a number of property development and investment businesses, was charged on March 8 with "ordering the murder".

Kocner has previously denied having anything to do with the 27-year-old Kuciak's killing.

The charges come just days before Slovaks are to go to the polls for the first round of presidential elections on Saturday.

A lawyer for Kocner, who is in custody on unrelated charges of forgery, did not reply to calls or text messages seeking comment.

Kuciak murder investigation throws light onto many other cases. Media have identified her as Alena Zsuzsova.

"The reason for the murder was the journalistic work of the victim", a special prosecutor told reporters in Bratislava who was left unnamed for security reasons.

Kuciak wrote about corrupt Slovak businessmen, European Union subsidy and Value-Added Tax fraud, and Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia and its attempts to cultivate ties with Slovak politicians.

Kuciak, who was investigating Kocner's business activities at the time of his death in February 2018, was the second high-profile assassination of a journalist in Europe in a matter of months after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta the previous October.

The murders stoked public anger over perceived corruption in Slovakia, a country of 5.4 million people, leading to the biggest protests since communism ended three decades earlier.

Then prime minister Robert Fico was forced to resign but remains the leader of the ruling populist-left Smer-SD party and is a close ally of current premier Peter Pellegrini.

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