Slovakia: Supreme Court overturned businessman's acquittal in Jan Kuciak's murder

The Slovak Supreme Court ruled on 15 June sided with the prosecutors who appealed against last summer’s acquittal of two accused in the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová. The International and European Federation of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to refer the case back for a retrial. The two federations call for careful examination of all evidence in the case in order to provide justice and end impunity for the journalists' killers.


Last summer, the controversial businessman Marian Kočner and a confidante, Alena Zsuzsová, were acquitted of ordering Kuciak’s murder in February 2018. The Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok, Slovakia, found that there was not enough evidence to rule conclusively that Kočner had ordered the killing. The three people who were convicted of the crime were gunman Miroslav Marček, getaway driver Tomáš Szabó and middleman Zoltán Andruskó. 

The prosecution appealed the verdict, which was a tremendous setback for the fight against impunity in a case which led to a dramatic change of the political landscape in Slovakia.

Today, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal of Marian Kočner and Alena Zsuzsová, following a review of new evidence submitted the prosecutions, including a new expert testimony on cryptic messages Kočner and Zsuzsova exchanged as well as data on Zsuzsova’s heartbeat. The Court ordered the Specialised Criminal Court to reconsider the case. The ruling was a huge relief to the families who were devastated by last summer’s ruling.

The Supreme Court also criticised the initial verdict for failing to consider all evidence and circumstances in the case, which it said resulted in an incorrect result, namely acquittal. The Specialised Criminal Court was also asked to assign the case to a different panel of judges from the one which oversaw the initial trial.

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: "We welcome the Supreme Court's ruling , which is a big relief for those fighting against impunity for crimes against journalists. All those involved in the killing of Jan and his fiancé, killers and master minds, must be brought to justice in order to send a clear message that killing a journalist cannot go unpunished.

We are pleased about the Supreme Court’s decision and are hopeful that, this time, the masterminds behind Ján Kuciak’s murder will finally be held fully accountable. Impunity for attacks and murders against journalists must end,” said the EFJ General Secretary Ricardo Gutiérrez.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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