Man held in Bulgarian journalist murder probe

Man held in Bulgarian journalist murder probe

Bulgarian police have detained a suspect in connection with the killing of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova, whose body was found in a park in her hometown of Ruse four days ago.

The suspect was a Romanian citizen.

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 worldwide condemnation.

The 30-year-old victim, who had reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds, suffered blows to the head and had been suffocated.

While the reporter did not appear to have been intimately involved in uncovering the alleged fraud, her show touched on a sensitive subject in Bulgaria, where corruption is endemic.

Denitsa Peicheva, 28, holds her son as she lays flowers next to candles left in memory of Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova in Ruse, Bulgaria, October 9, 2018.

European leaders have expressed their shock at the killing. Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said Monday that the commission expected "a swift and thorough investigation. that will bring those responsible to justice and clarify whether this attack was linked to her work".

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Ms Marinova was a director of TVN, a small TV station, and a TV presenter for two investigative programmes.

Bulgarian interior minister Mladen Marinov initially denied that Marinova's murder was linked to her reporting, and said there was no evidence she had been threatened.

But that assertion was contradicted by Asen Yordanov, the owner of the investigative website, bivol.bg, who told AFP that he had received information that his reporters were in danger of being assaulted.

In a July report on the state of media freedom in Bulgaria, Reporters Without Borders said, "Fortunately, no investigative journalists have been killed in Bulgaria for their work, but there are documented murder plans and attempts, cruel, execution-style, beatings, auto arson and bombs targeting investigative reporters". "It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning".

Marinova is at least the third journalist to have suffered a violent death in the European Union alone over the past 12 months, after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October previous year.

Marinova's killing was widely-condemned on Twitter by fellow journalists and watchdog groups.

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