Three journalists have been reported murdered between October 2017 and October 2018. Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta, Jan Kuciak, Slovakia, and Victoria Marinova, Bulgaria, were all investigative journalists murdered in Europe in the past year.
Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was a high-profile Maltese investigative journalist, who was killed in a car bomb explosion in October 2017 in an attack that drew condemnation from around Europe.
Daphne’s blogs often gathered more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers. Caruana Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”. Her blogs were tightly related to the Maltese underground figures and establishments. Her last revelation pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan.
Her final blog post ended: “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”
One year later, there is still no justice for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and her case has been brought to a standstill. The Maltese journalism guild has major concerns about the independence, impartiality and effectiveness of the Maltese authorities’ investigation.
Despite her reporting on corruption at the highest levels of government, no politician has been questioned. Galizia’s family fears that those who ordered her death will never be brought to justice, that they will quite literally get away with murder.
Ján Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová, were discovered shot dead in the home they shared. Kuciak was a Slovakian investigative journalist who reported on alleged tax fraud involving businessmen connected to Slovakia’s ruling party. The two bodies were found in the evening in the town of Vel’ka Mača, east of the capital, Bratislava. Kuciak was shot in the chest and Kušnírová in the head.
Kuciak had worked for the Aktuality.sk news website for three years and had written a number of articles on tax evasion.
His last piece was published on 9 February 2017 and covered a suspected tax fraud connected to a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava known as the Five Star Residence. The report identified suspicious transactions among five companies.
Kuciak had also recently been investigating the suspected theft of EU funds destined for eastern Slovakian by the Italian mafia.
Almost nine months after Kuciak’s murder the body of another investigative journalist was found. Victoria Marinova, 30, was a Bulgarian investigative journalist and an executive producer of a local TV station. The body was found thrown away from the river in Ruse. A few meters away have been found other belongings to the victim. However, her phone, glasses and part of her clothes were missing.
Marinova was brutali beaten up, raped and strangled by a 21-year old man.
In a pilot episode of a new TV show she was working on, Marinova presented a case developed by other two journalists, from the investigative website Bivol.bg, about an alleged misuse of EU funds. Reports say that her murder was a warning to the two men from Bivol.bg.
The brutal assassination of these three journalists is a remainder to all that although I the EU journalists generally work in good conditions, freedom of the press and journalists’ safety are not to be taken for granted.