Czechia: Entrepreneur suspected of ordering Kuciak’s murder said journalists must be ‘taken out’

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Marian Kočner, the Slovak magnate suspected of ordering the 2018 murder of journalist Ján Kuciak, said in the past that two journalists must be “taken out” for the rest of them to stop bothering him, his brother Ivan said in testimony made public during the Monday’s trial.

However, Marian Kočner denied such an allegation, calling it a lie. His brother used his right not to testify in front of the court against a close relative, so the chairwoman of the court only read his older, yet still unpublished testimony.

“When I was talking about non-standard journalistic practices from my experience, Marian said that one journalist should be ‘taken out’, then another one, and then they will leave him alone,” said Ivan Kočner, who used to be the head of journalism department in the Radio and Television of Slovakia public broadcasting.

One of the witnesses confirmed that Marian Kočner told this to his younger brother at a family party, which took place in 2012, six years before the murder of Kuciak. He added that Marian Kočner looked angry and that they did not talk about journalists anymore.

The defendant denied in court that he and his brother would talk about journalists at the aforementioned celebration. He described his sibling as an untrustworthy person who is influenced by the media.

In April, the businessman said he feels sorry that the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were murdered, but said he was not responsible for their deaths.

Two of the five defendants in the case, including the murderer, have previously confessed to their crimes. According to the indictment, Kočner ordered the murder of Kuciak out of revenge as the journalist reported on his extensive economic crimes.

In February this year, Kočner, together with the former Economy Minister Pavol Rusko, was also convicted of forging promissory notes.

In Slovakia, the killing of the investigative journalist Kuciak provoked the largest demonstration since the fall of communism in 1989, as well as a political crisis that resulted in the resignation of the then Prime Minister Robert Fico.

Title image: Marian Kocner sits in a courtroom ahead of the trial in Pezinok, Slovakia, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. The trial opened on Thursday with, Marian Kocner, the suspected mastermind in the slaying of an investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, who were shot dead in their home on Feb. 21, 2018, a case that has shocked the nation and shaken the country’s politics. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

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