Middleman in killing of Slovak journalist points finger

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA (AP) — A man who has admitted to arranging the murder of an investigative journalist and his fiancée in Slovakia told a court that he did so at the behest of local businessman Marian Kocner.

Zoltan Andrusko told a court in the town of Pezinok, north of the capital Bratislava, that he was the middleman “at the request of Mr Kocner”. Kocner, who denied any involvement in the slaying, had allegedly threatened Jan Kuciak following publication of a story about him.

“I am terribly sorry about what happened,” Andrusko said. “It’s impossible to fix it but I will try to do all I can to set things right,”

Andrusko confirmed the prosecution’s claim a total of USD77,800 was paid.

Andrusko was among the original five suspects charged in relation to the alleged contract killing of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova that subsequently brought down the country’s government. But he made an agreement to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lower sentence.

The four defendants still standing trial face potential prison sentences of 25 years to life. The man suspected of shooting the couple pleaded guilty. The other three defendants, including Kocner, have all pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Marian Kocner (R), the suspected mastermind in the slaying of an investigative journalist and his fiancée, and suspected shooter Miroslav Marcek (L) are escorted by armed police officers in Pezinok, Slovakia. PHOTO: AP