Ex-soldier admits to killing Slovak journalist and his fiancee

Reuters Pezinok, Bratislava, Slovakia Jan 13, 2020, 06.10 PM(IST)

Miroslav Marcek walks inside the courtroom at a preliminary hearing as he and other defendants appear on charges of ordering and carrying out the murders of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova Photograph:( Reuters )

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Marcek was charged with shooting investigative reporter Jan Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in their house outside Bratislava in February 2018.

Former soldier Miroslav Marcek admitted on Monday to the killing of a Slovak journalist and his fiancee, a crime that sparked mass protests leading to the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Marcek told the Special Criminal Court in Pezinok, north of the capital Bratislava, that he accepted guilt, an admission that could reduce his sentence from potential life imprisonment.

Marcek was charged with shooting investigative reporter Jan Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in their house outside Bratislava in February 2018.

A woman kneels by a memorial of the investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova
[ A woman kneels by a memorial on the first anniversary of the murder of the investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova (Courtesy: Reuters) ]

"I am guilty as per article 1," Marcek told the court when the presiding judge asked the four defendants to make statements on the charges presented by the prosecutor.

Two other defendants, including businessman Marian Kocner, who were charged with ordering the murder, said they were innocent. One defendant, who police said helped Marcek to carry out the murder, did not make a statement at the hearing.

The murder led to large demonstrations against graft which forced prime minister Fico and the country's police president to step down.

Several senior justice officials later quit after investigations revealed they had been in contact with Kocner, who was the subject of Kuciak's reporting.

Marcek's confession was not a total shock as Slovak public television reported police sources as saying last year he had admitted his guilt during questioning.

A fifth suspect, Zoltan Andrusko, confessed in December to facilitating the murder and a court handed him a 15-year prison sentence.