(New York, NY) – Slovak prosecutors have charged businessman Marian Kocner and three others in the contract killing of a journalist and his fiancée, a welcome step toward achieving justice, PEN America said today. Journalist Jan Kuciak, gunned down alongside Martina Kusnirova in February 2018, had identified Kocner in his reporting on corruption. Prosecutors said that prompted Kocner to order Kuciak’s killing.

“We welcome the developments in Kuciak’s case as a positive sign that the Slovak authorities are taking seriously the need to hold those who ordered and carried out his killing held accountable,” said PEN America’s Eurasia project director Polina Kovaleva. “Impunity for violence against journalists is all too common – if those who carried out this brutal killing are held to account, it would set a powerful example for those countries where journalists’ murderers continue to go free.” 

Shortly before his death, Kuciak complained to the police about threats from Kocner. Kuciak allegedly became a target because of an investigation into the relations of Slovak politicians, including former Prime Minister Robert Fico, with an Italian organized crime group. Kocner has been accused of having links to organized crime, and in the fall of 2017, Jan Kuciak examined in detail Kocner’s business transactions and networks. 

In February 2018, PEN America issued a statement on the murders, condemning the act as an egregious attack on journalists and press freedom​ worldwide.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

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