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The crime that uncovered the sewers of corruption in Slovakia

The deaths of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Shake Slovak society

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The crime that uncovered the sewers of corruption in Slovakia

The murder of couple, which prosecution considers work of a hitman, has shocked country and entire European Union. And he has knocked out Fico — in power for last ten years — and much of his team, who, despite categorically denying any kind of relationship to scandals, have been forced to resign after those that are considered greatest manifestations of history of ESL Ovaquia since Velvet Revolution, in 1989. Kuciak was no less only investigative reporter. Not even most relevant. His crime, however, has brought to light magnitude of small country's sewers, of 5.4 million of inhabitants, member of EU since 2004.

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In international corruption indices, Slovakia is not among worst, but it carries a serious problem of bribery since its construction as a state after totalitarian regime and since its independence and scission of Czech Republic, in 1993. So much so that this rot has become systemic, warns Zuzana Wienk, director of Fair-Play Alliance, a reputable organization specializing in analysis of transparency. The situation has put on alert Community authorities, which have given a touch of attention to Slovak Government to streamline investigations.

More than a month after his assassination, table Kuciak occupied in writing of Aktualitaty, news portal where he worked, remains almost same. A computer, a pile of papers and notebooks and a book about ' Ndragheta. This Italian criminal organization, with tentacles all over world, was dedicated to 27-year-old journalist, almost all of his efforts in recent times. Kuciak had discovered that a group of Slovak and Italian entrepreneurs had fraudulently made hundreds of thousands of euros of Community funds for agriculture in east of country. The journalist rebuilt part of a complex lattice to connect to one of ringleaders, linked to Calabrian crime syndicate, with two advisers of Prime Minister Fico.

Enlarge photo Several citizens hold a photograph of Kuciak and Kusnirova in demonstration of this Sunday in Bratislava. Getty

He never managed to see his findings published. But his posthumous article, completed by an alliance created between his fellow Aktualitaty.sk and a group of country's best investigative journalists, was disclosed in most of media in Slovakia. "And that was blow that ended up lying to Fico. People went out on street in droves. And indignation is still monumental, "remarked Peter Bardy, director of news portal where he worked Kuciak. On lapel is a badge with slogan AllForJan, which has become cry of Wrath of Slovaks.

Enlarge photo Peter Bardy, director of Aktualitaty.sk, in front of table that occupied Kuciak. M. R. S.,

On his back, in meeting room, a large sign unravels with names and faces a large part of tentacles of criminal network. At end, Antonino Vadala, linked to ' Ndragueta and pursued by Italian authorities, who neverless managed to become rich in Slovakia through juicy community cohesion funds. He was never investigated or detained. And it's not that it was unnoticed. The supposed entrepreneur drove a Lamborghini through decrepit roads of east, bastion of SMER, government party, and one of poorest areas of Slovakia. There, Italian, had built a striking house.

The connection between Vadala and Fico is called Maria Troskova. It is an old lingerie model and contestant of Miss Universe beauty pageant, with which Italian maintained a personal relationship — y were lovers — and professional — she became co-owner of ir companies. Troskova, 26, went on to become a member of government. There, he was climbing up to be appointed personal advisor to Prime Minister, a post — created ex-Profo — for whom he had no qualifications. He had previously gone through team of Viliam Jasan, a deputy and one of closest allies to prime Minister; Also related to Vadala.

The two have fallen along with Fico, which days after assassination, and when indignation of Slovaks had spilled against his government, literally put on table a million euros in bills and offered as a reward to whoever gave some clue about Crime of Kuciak and Kusnirova. With that image of film, it intended to leave behind rabid attacks against press for which it had been characterized. "We have come to call hyenas or prostitutes," said Rivet Matus Kostolny, director of Dennik N, an independent newspaper that has earned prestige of publishing sonadísimos scandals of Slovak politicians and businessmen.

Enlarge photo Robert Fico (in center) with chief of police and Minister of Interior (already resigned) offers a remark of one million euros for slopes for murder of Kuciak, on February 27. Getty

Like those of Kuciak, articles of Dennik have pointed many times to Fico, famous for its ties with dark oligarchs of country, to whose support owes m charge and to those who has returned favor with millions concessions of public works, hotels, hospitals or even A hockey stadium, national sport. Also to its already resigned minister of Interior, Robert Kalinak. Or president of police, Tibor Gaspar, whose name came out in a journalistic investigation into an opaque private security company, who had spied on reporters and opponents of Fico and which is owned by one of his relatives.

In spite of everything, in last six years no politician or high-level businessman has been convicted of corruption in Slovakia. The courts have dictated small sentences against some local politicians, but in eastern country, half of cases of bribery that go to trial are for amounts under a hundred euros. Striking. "In a country where government controls attorney general, anti-corruption agency and President of police, y guarantee ir safeguard and that of ' ir men '," warns expert Wienk. In fact, Kuciak had received threats from one of those dark oligarchs in SMER environment, but authorities never acted against him.

After Maltese Daphne, Slovak is second murder of a journalist in less than six months in EU. Crimes that have placed in spotlight freedom of press and risk to journalists in countries so far away from situation in Mexico, Venezuela, Syria or Eritrea. Since Slovak assassination, new protective measures have been installed in newsrooms throughout country, and some of his colleagues, such as Bardy, have a "panic button" in ir pockets that y can squeeze to ask for help if y feel threatened.

Both killed investigated issues of corruption and had pointed to ir governments. But, as in case of a car bomber murdered last October, crime of Kuciak and his fiancée is far from resolved. In March, authorities detained seven people in connection with assassination, all from Italian-Slovak network; One of m, controversial Antonino Vadala. Only he stays in prison. But not for journalist's case, but for his outstanding accounts with Italian justice. The lack of unworthy responses to citizenry, which week after week continues to go out into street. The SMER, which governs in coalition with two or parties, has avoided thanks to its support anticipated elections, explains deputy opponent Gabor Grendel. This Sunday, some 30,000 people gared in Bratislava to demand resignation of president of police, whom y consider to be disabled to remain in office. The new minister of Interior, in charge of naming and ceasing police authority, has avoided commenting on case.

Enlarge photo Mrs. Regina places candles and flowers that citizens have left at doors of House of Kuciak and Kusnirova, in Velka Maca, on Thursday. M. R. Sahuquillo

It is unknown at moment which of all keys that Kuciak had pressed was detonation of his death. In recent months, journalist had also investigated Albanian mafia and its narco-trafficking businesses in Slovakia, for example. The research is now focused on security cameras planted by people of Velka Maca. There, in access gate to house that Kuciak and Kusnirova had bought and were reforming, dozens of candles, flowers and messages ensure that y will not forget couple, who planned to marry in May.

"Apparently she didn't even have to be that day here, but rains forced closure of digging where she worked so she decided to come and see Jan," says Mrs. Regina. He lives in Yellow house on corner. He is 73 years old and is proud that nothing happens in village without her knowing it. "Everything must have happened during night," says distressed. Like those of Slovaks, ir hopes of finding culprits are diluted as days are passing. In rusty gate of hearth of Kuciak and Kusnirova, still remains message that someone has written with yellow letters: "Love is stronger than evil."

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