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Crime

Bulgarian police detain man in probe into murder of TV journalist

Some local investigative journalists called on authorities not to play down the option the murder might have been linked to her work as a reporter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2018, 7:45pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 2:26pm

A man has been detained as part of the probe into the killing of a Bulgarian journalist in the northern town of Ruse, Bulgarian public radio reported on Tuesday, citing police sources.

The brutal killing of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova – who presented a current affairs talk programme called Detector for the small TVN television channel – shocked the country and drew international condemnation.

Police said the suspect is a Romanian citizen of Ukrainian origin and he has been detained for 24 hours.

“We have in custody a person whose alibi we are checking, but for the time being we do not have a concrete suspect. Work with him is continuing,” Teodor Atanasov, the head of Ruse regional police said.

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The killing came to light on Sunday after Marinova’s body was discovered in a park in Ruse the previous day.

Police were planning to hold a press conference on the case during the afternoon.

Authorities say Marinova died from blows to the head and suffocation. She had also been raped.

Prosecutors have said “all leads” are being considered, including possible links to Marinova’s professional activity.

She had recently been working on corruption allegations against businessmen and politicians.

Marinova is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe in the past 12 months after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017.

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The US embassy to Sofia tweeted that it was shocked by the journalist’s “horrific murder”.

“US is ready to help authorities if needed to bring the perpetrators to justice,” it said.

The European Commission has urged Bulgaria to conduct a rapid investigation into the murder.

Some local investigative journalists called on authorities not to play down the option that her murder might have been linked to her work as a journalist.

“I see deliberate attempts to marginalise this killing and manipulate the public opinion that Viktoria was a victim of a random attack or sexual manslaughter,” said Assen Yordanov, founder of Bivol.bg, reporters for which were on Marinova’s last show. He did not elaborate.

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He said Marinova was the only journalist who had agreed to host his website’s journalists to discuss their investigation into alleged high-level corruption and misuse of EU funds.

Local people observed a vigil overnight and lit candles in front of her image. Many were stopping on Tuesday to put flowers to commemorate Marinova, who left a seven-year-old daughter.

“This is extremely frustrating. We do not feel safe at all or calm when such things happen. I did not know her personally, but as a mother I can only feel for her,” said 28-year-old Denitsa Peicheva.

Additional reporting by Reuters