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David and Goliath: An investigative journalist versus criminals protected by a partially captured state


David and Goliath: An investigative journalist versus criminals protected by a partially captured state

Andrej Školkay (with contributions by Joseph
Borg and Mary Anne Lauri)

In February 2018, Slovakia ended a long period without the murder of a media person when a young investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, were slain in their home. While in previous instances of journalist disappearances the possibility of murder could not be precluded, lack of evidence makes this case the first. The killing in question, which is regarded as a turning point in the modern history of Slovakia, was the first since the country gained independence in 1993. It strongly suggests that unknown criminals were more afraid of a young, semi-independent investigative journalist than of law enforcement agencies in the country. According to an opinion poll carried out by the Focus agency in the latter part of 2018, the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancé was the most important national event of that year. Respondents could name a maximum of two events from a list of suggested items, or suggest ones they considered the most important. 1 Forty-five percent of respondents cited the murder as the key event in Slovakia in 2018. At the same time, half of the poll’s top ten most important events in 2018 were associated directly with the killing, or indirectly to its consequences. Leading ones included the resignation of Prime Minister Robert Fico (38 percent), public protests in city squares (21 percent), the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (18 percent), and the imprisonment of Marian Kočner, an infamous entrepreneur (18 percent). Additional political and state authority resignations continued throughout early 2019 (see Hanák, 2019) as new information was leaked from
police investigations. …

(page 68-86)