Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova murdered

Charlene Craig
October 10, 2018

A Bulgarian television journalist who had presented a program about fraud and corruption in her country was found raped and murdered on Saturday, police said. Police said she had been strangled and her body was found in a park near the river.

Marinova briefly hosted a show on Bulgarian station TVN, called Detector.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) media freedom representative Harlem Desir condemned Marinova's killing on Twitter.

Germany called Bulgarian law-enforcement authorities to carry out "a quick and comprehensive investigation" into Marinova's murder, stated Deputy spokesperson of German Foreign Ministry Christofer Burger on October 8. In her program, she spoke about corruption schemes her colleague had discovered. Police have said the killings were connected to Kuciak's work, and they recently arrested several people suspected of involvement, including one man authorities believe was a paid hit man.

"As security - rather than the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms - becomes the number one priority of governments worldwide, broadly-written security laws have been twisted to silence journalists", wrote Index on Censorship's Jodie Ginsburg past year.

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The two had been investigating alleged fraud with European Union funds linked to big businessmen and politicians when they were detained by armed Bulgarian police for more than seven hours in mid-September as they followed up on a tip that crucial documents were being burned in a field outside the capital, Sofia.

Also on the minds of press freedom advocates is the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi critic and Washington Post contributor, who vanished last week after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The two journalists - Attila Biro of the Romanian Rise Project, and Dimitar Stoyanov, a reporter for Bivol.bg - had uncovered "large-scale and wide-spread corruption" in EU-funded projects in Bulgaria worth hundreds of millions of Bulgarian leva, the European Council said. The research is checking all theories including those related to Marinova's journalistic work. She'd been beaten with such force that she was unrecognizable, according to the Federation of European Journalists.

"There is physical evidence to link to the murder", Marinov said on Wednesday. Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead along with his fiancee in February in an attack linked to his reporting on ties between Slovak officials and Italian mobsters.

'We are in shock, ' a colleague of Ms Marinov from TVN told AFP under the condition of anonymity.

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"Those responsible must be held to account", he said Sunday.

They said that investigative journalists in Bulgaria are "often subjected to pressure, from mere warnings to intimidation and physical assaults on themselves or their property".

"Her mobile phone, auto keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing", Georgiev said, The Telegraph reports.

Bulgaria ranked 111 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index this year, lower than any other European Union member.

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