New moves in Jan Kuciak murder probe; ex-police officer starts anti-mafia campaign

April 17, 2019

By Jane Whyatt

In Slovakia, one of the five people accused of the murders of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírova has made a confession.

Miroslav Marček is reported to have admitted that he fired the fatal shots. The information was first brought to light by the public-service broadcaster RTVS, but was later confirmed to the SME daily newspaper by sources from the investigation. Marček was at first believed to have been the getaway driver for his cousin Tomas Szabo, also accused of direct involvement in the crimes. Business owner Marian Kočner has been charged with ordering the contract killings and Alena Zsuzsova of paying for them, using Zoltan Andruscko as a go-between.

Meanwhile on 14. April, the Acting Police Chief in charge of the murder investigation, Milan Lucansky, was confirmed in his post and given a fou- year contract by the Interior Minister Denisa Savoka. He replaced the former police chief Tibor Gaspar who resigned, along with former Prime Minister Robert Fico and four other ministers, following the public protests prompted by the journalist’s murder and the initial slow progress of the investigation, which indicated that there would be impunity. Under Gaspar’s presidency, the police had also ordered Kuciak to be investigated and had failed to act on the reporter’s request for protection when he started receiving threats.

Lucansky’s appointment was criticised by some commentators, as reported in SME; but since he took over the Kuciak case, there have been arrests and charges.

The protest movement ‘For a Decent Slovakia’ continues to campaign against corruption in society, and now a new civil society initiative has been launched to concentrate on removing political and mafia influence from the police. It’s called Zalepsiu Policiu, ‘For a Better Police’. The founder is a former Police Colonel, Branislav Didak, and he gave an interview to Ján Kuciak’s former newspaper, Aktuality.sk. Here is an extract, reproduced with permission of the editor Peter Bardy, and translated by a member of the Slovakia Advocacy Group.

Who are those people who shouldn’t be in the police?

Those are the ones who were nominated by the private individuals. Today, anyone can get any positions. Even exception in the career progression is just a useless piece of paper. That is working for this group.

They can put anyone in any positions on any level. They needed to be in control not only of the boroughs, but also of regions and some parts of NAKA [the National Criminal Agency].

How about the people in police leadership/ management?

I call them third-class policemen, they need to have someone behind them, otherwise they would never get to the positions they are in. And if they didn’t have that back up, there would be consequences.

We do have Police Inspection at Ministry of Interior. My question is, what are they doing, when every policeman knows about this?

Take for example Pavol Vorobjov, who was spying on Ján Kuciak, under instructions of former police Chief Tibor Gaspar.

When we go back to the murder investigation of Ján and Martina, the accused Andrusko said, that they (the oligarchs) had information from the investigation. What is your opinion?

What happened is absolutely shocking. I know, that oligarchs were laughing at the investigation, they believed that they will get away with it. I know now that they won’t.

However, I’m trying not to follow the investigation for one reason: it’s a trap. You never know who will try to get to our team. In the past there were situations, when they tried to discredit us, including me. The fact is, that there are men outside my house, and who’re threatening my wife. This is really happening.

Obviously, I’m not allowed to know any information from the murder investigation file. However there are people who are trying to get close to us (the team of the initiative For Better Police). They are waiting for our mistakes, slips, that I say something I should not have said.

Despite all of this, I believe that the murders will be solved.

Branislav Didak aims to attract other former police officers to join his new initiative, and encourages whistleblowers who are still working in the police force to come forward with information that will help his campaign.

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