Slovak investigative reporter and girlfriend shot dead

Policemen stand guard at the crime scene where Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Marina Kusnirova were murdered in Velka Maca, some 50 km from Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 27 February 2018
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Slovak investigative reporter and girlfriend shot dead

PRAGUE: A Slovak investigative reporter and his girlfriend were shot dead in their home in an attack likely linked to his reporting, which was focused on tax evasion, Slovakia’s top police officer said Monday.
The bodies of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his partner were found on Sunday evening in their house in the town of Velka Maca, east of the capital, Bratislava, police president Tibor Gaspar said.
Police went to the house at the request of a worried family member.
Gaspar said the killings “likely have something to do with his investigative activities.” He declined to elaborate.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said if that if that were the case, it would be “an unprecedented attack on freedom of the press and democracy in Slovakia.”
Fico announced his government was offering €1 million ($1.23 million) to anyone who helped the authorities find those behind the killings.
President Andrej Kiska called for a quick investigation of the crime.
“We have to find those who did it as soon as possible and ensure the safety of all journalists,” Kiska said in a statement.
Gaspar said the reporter was shot in the chest while the woman was shot in the head. He said they were estimated to have been killed between Thursday and Sunday.
He added that Slovakia “has never faced such an unprecedented attack on a journalist.”
Kuciak was working for Aktuality.sk news website. He focused mainly on tax evasion.
“We are shocked and stunned by the news that Jan Kuciak and his partner were apparently victims of a cruel attack,” publisher Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, to which Aktuality.sk belongs, said in a statement.
“We mourn with the family, the friends and the colleagues; we will do everything to support the investigating authorities to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
In his latest story, Kuciak reported on a businessman suspected of selling flats in an apartment complex to his own companies. The reporter questioned the business reason for doing that, and speculated that it could be a method of avoiding tax.
Kuciak said last year he filed a complaint with police after the businessman, Marian Kocner, threatened him following another story about him. Kuciak then complained that police failed to act.


Cuba denies Trump claim of troops in Venezuela

Updated 21 min 28 sec ago
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Cuba denies Trump claim of troops in Venezuela

  • US President Donald Trump says Cuba has troops in Venezuela defending socialist leader Nicolas Maduro
  • Trump has refused to rule out military intervention in Venezuela, despite repeated denials from his administration

HAVANA: Cuba rejected Tuesday the “despicable” accusation by US President Donald Trump that it has troops in Venezuela defending socialist leader Nicolas Maduro.
On Monday, Trump claimed that Maduro was being “protected by a private army of Cuban soldiers.”
“Let him show the evidence. Our government rejects this slander in the strongest and most categorical terms,” said Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
He also claimed the US was “preparing a military intervention under a humanitarian pretext,” in a bid to oust Maduro.
The US has sent tons of aid to Colombia’s border with Venezuela in support of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is challenging Maduro’s authority.
Venezuela is wracked by a humanitarian crisis marked by shortages of desperately needed food and medicines. But the military has barricaded the border crossing to prevent the aid from entering.
Guaido, the self-proclaimed acting president recognized by some 50 countries, says 300,000 Venezuelans could die without the aid.
Maduro, though, claims the aid is a smokescreen for an invasion.
Trump has refused to rule out military intervention in Venezuela, despite repeated denials from his administration.
Rodriguez said the US-backed “imperialist coup” has failed but Guaido insists the aid will be brought in on Saturday, and has pressed the military to side with him and let the shipments enter the country.
“They’ve fixed a deadline to bring in humanitarian aid by force, which is in itself a contradiction,” added Rodriguez.
“What are their aims, what could they be if not to generate an incident that puts civilian lives at risk, that would provoke violence or unpredictable circumstances?”