Nearly two years after Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in their home in Bratislava, the hired gunman responsible for the twin execution pleaded guilty to charges of murder.
Miroslav Marcek, a former professional soldier, admitted to the killings after facing trial in the Special Criminal Court in Pezinok City. Marcek described how on Feb. 21, 2018, he shot the 27-year-old Kuciak in the chest, and his fiancee Kusnirova, in the head,. The killings were related to the possible government corruption that Kuciak was investigating at that time.
Marian Kocner, a notorious Slovakian businessman alleged to have links with organized crime was the main figure involved in Kuciak’s investigations. Kocner reportedly threatened the reporter after the latter published a story about Kocner’s shady activities and corrupt dealings with the previous Slovakian government. Despite Marcek’s admission, Kocner who was charged for masterminding Kuciak and his fiancee’s execution, and two other plotters, continued to plead “not guilty.”
However, last December 2019, a fifth suspect who also faced charges as co-conspirator to the crime, agreed to cooperate with the Pezinok prosecutors in exchange for a lower prison term of 15 years. Marcek as the assassin, Kuciak as the person who ordered the killing, and two other individuals, Alena Gurova and Tomas Sabo who helped plot and carry out the double-murder, all face a 25-year incarceration period; although it is not yet clear when the sentencing will be handed down.
Murder Charges vs. Kocner Strengthened by Testimony of Middleman Who Contracted Marcek
Zoltan Andrusko, the fifth man charged with the double murder of Jan Kuciak/Martina Kusnirova, had confessed at the Pezinok court that he was the middleman who contracted Miroslav Marcek, upon the request of Marian Kocner. Andrusko confirmed Marcek’s testimony that he was paid a total of EU 70,000 (US$77,800); EU 50,000 in cash and EU 20,000 as settlement of an existing debt.
The deaths of Jan Kuciak and and Martina Kusnirova sparked a series of mass protests that triggered a political crisis and eventually led to the collapse of the previous government under the the ruling party Smer. In the 2019 presidential election that followed, the people of Slovakia voted overwhelmingly in favor of a female environmental lawyer, Zuzana Caputova. Albeit a political newcomer, Caputova made history by becoming Slovakia’s first female president.