Slovak reporter's killer gets 23 years

Miroslav Marcek (centre) faces 23 years in jail for killing reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.
Miroslav Marcek (centre) faces 23 years in jail for killing reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee.

A Slovak court has sentenced former soldier Miroslav Marcek to 23 years in prison for shooting and killing investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in February 2018.

Marcek, 37, who was not present at the sentencing, had admitted guilt in the case, which led to country-wide protests and eventually brought down the Slovak government.

"It was cold-blooded and malicious. The victims did not have a chance to defend themselves," presiding judge Ruzena Szabova of the Specialised Criminal Court said at the hearing in Pezinok, north of Bratislava. "His confession was a mitigating circumstance."

Prosecutor Juraj Novocky, who asked for a 25-year sentence, appealed against the sentence.

Kuciak had reported on corruption and the links of influential businessmen to political, judicial and police leaders.

Businessman Marian Kocner, who was a target of Kuciak's reporting and verbally threatened him in September 2017, is standing trial with two others in separate hearings on charges of paying for the murder.

High-level corruption and the Kuciak case were central topics in campaigning ahead of the EU country's general election in February.

The Ordinary People (OLANO) party led by Igor Matovic won a quarter of votes and formed a four-party coalition government to oust the Smer party which had ruled the country for 12 of the past 14 years.

Australian Associated Press