Bulgarian investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova raped and murdered

Ruben Ruiz
October 9, 2018

"Shocked by horrific murder of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria", tweeted Harlem Desir, the media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Police are investigating to establish whether there was any political motive in the killing of Viktoria Marinova, state broadcaster BNT reported citing prosecutors in the northern city.

A colleague at her employer, the private TV station TVN, confirmed Marinova's death to RFE/RL, but declined to say anything more pending an official statement from the station. Attila Biro, editor of the Romanian investigative website Rise Project, and Dimitar Stoyanov, of the Bulgarian site Bivol, were arrested in the Sofia suburb of Pernik on 14 September and held for six hours. She was found dead on Saturday near the Danube River in the city of Russe. She had been beaten, raped and strangled, according to local media.

Mladen Mladenov, the interior minister of Bulgaria, called her murder "exceptionally brutal".

The two men were briefly detained September 13 south of Sofia, the capital, as they investigated a tip that documents connected to suspected fraud involving European Union funds were being shredded and destroyed.

Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said a bank transfer of 14 million euros ($16.06 million) had been frozen as part of a pre-trial investigation into issues raised by the investigative journalists on the show but declined to give further details.

"All versions" regarding the murder were on the table, the vice director of local police, Ilian Enchev, said.

"I am glad so many people are here", said Stoyka Panagonova, a mother of three, at the vigil in Ruse.

A journalists' group has called for an investigation into the "brutal" slaying of a Bulgarian television reporter and presenter, but warned against speculating about the motive for her killing.

The German government condemned her "brutal murder" and said it is imperative "that there's a fast investigation and that this terrible event will be illuminated as comprehensively as possible".

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According to Reporters Without Borders, Bulgaria sits at 111 on the World Press Freedom Index, however until now, no journalists have been killed this year.

It is not known if Marinova's murder is linked to her journalism work.

The commission vice president, Frans Timmermans, said he was "shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria [sic] Marinova".

In a statement from the United Nations cultural agency's headquarters in Paris, Azoulay added: "Attacks on journalists erode the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and its corollaries, press freedom and free access to information".

Marinova's murder has drawn worldwide condemnation and calls from media watchdogs for a comprehensive investigation.

In another high-profile case, journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva broke news previous year that large caches of U.S., Saudi, and Bulgarian weapons were secretly being shipped to Syria.

Kuciak had investigated alleged fraud in European Union farming subsidies by an Italian organised crime group. It is also the worst in the Western Balkans, a region Sofia hopes to bring closer to the EU.

Reporters Without Borders warned previous year about a suspected murder plot against a Bulgarian publisher, Georgi Ezekiev.

Giegold said, "First Malta, then Slovakia, now Bulgaria".

Other reports by GizPress

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