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EU leaders, world media shocked at murder of Slovak journalist

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Prague, Feb 26 (CTK) – Leading EU politicians expressed their shock at the murder of Jan Kuciak, 27, a Slovak investigative journalist writing on suspected tax frauds of businesspeople linked to the Slovak government party, and the world media have reported about the case.

The EU cannot accept it if a journalist is murdered over his work, EP President Antonio Tajani said, calling on Slovak authorities to thoroughly investigate the case.

EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, on a visit to Belgrade, said he is shocked by the horrible news about the murder of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee. Quoted by the AFP press agency, he said he condemns the cowardly act and that murders and intimidation of journalists have no place in either Europe or democracy.

“Shocked by the murder of a journalist in the EU. No democracy can survive without the free press, which is why journalists deserve respect and protection,” EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Twitter.

“Justice must be served,” he wrote.

Manfred Weber, head of the EPP group in European Parliament, too, expressed his shock at the horrible crime and called for its independent and consistent investigation.

EP Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, from Slovakia, told journalists that he is deeply shattered by the murder of Kuciak and his girlfriend, who was murdered together with him this weekend.

Their death must not leave anyone indifferent, since freedom of speech must remain untouchable. The punishment of this crime is a moral imperative for the health of the whole society, Sefcovic said.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, a Czech, said that the murder “puts freedom of press and democracy in danger.”

Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels that the case shocked him.

He said he still firmly believes that the speculation, according to which Kuciak’s murder was motivated by his work as an investigative journalist, will not be confirmed.

“I firmly believe that it was only a kind of a human tragedy,” Stropnicky said.

He said he cannot imagine Slovakia being a country that would solve “problems with a journalist” in this way.

The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organisation has condemned the murder and called on the authorities to punish the perpetrators.

An investigative journalist was cowardly assassinated in the EU once again, head of the RSF’s Balkans and EU branch Pauline Ades-Mevel said, adding that this is the fifth murder of a journalist in ten years.

In the freedom of the press index, which the RSF released last year, Slovakia finished 17, five positions lower than a year before, the RSF wrote.

Thorough information about the murder of Kuciak and his girlfriend has been brought by newspapers such as the USA’s Washington Post and the New York Times, British The Guardian and the Belgrade-seated B-92 radio.

The French daily Le Figaro emphasised that the last case Kuciak enquired in was suspected tax frauds linked to a luxurious housing complex in Bratislava.

Ukrainian media and also Russian media, from Komsomolskaya pravda to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, too, have written about the murder of Kuciak and the financial reward the Slovak government has promised for information helping to catch the perpetrators.

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