Ján Kuciak murder: Court delivers the first verdict in Slovak journalist’s killing

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Zoltán Andruskó, who played a role in arranging the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak last year, was sentenced to 15 years in prison according to his new plea agreement with the prosecutor approved by the Special Criminal Court.

The 42-year-old Andruskó is the first lawfully convicted person in the case of the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kušnírová.

Initially, Andruskó faced a 25-year prison sentence or life imprisonment. However, as he cooperated with the police, the prosecutor’s office decided to propose a significant reduction of the sentence in his case.

The prosecutor suggested ten years. However, judge Pamela Záleská said that such a punishment is advantageous only to Andruskó.

“The accused Zoltán Andruskó traded with human life, selling a value that is highly protected by the criminal law,” said Záleská, adding that no punishment can remedy Kuciak’s death.

Even though the court has not objected to the reduction of the sentence, it declared the ten-year sentence to be too low and proposed a 15-year sentence.

Subsequently, the court suspended the trial for about an hour to allow Andruskó to consult his lawyer. Andruskó then accepted this stricter punishment with the court approving the new agreement.

Four other people, including entrepreneur Marian Kočner, face charges in the case of the aforementioned double murder. The main trial will begin in January 2020.

According to the investigators, Kuciak’s murder was ordered by Kočner, whose controversial business activities were the subject of Kuciak’s investigative reporting.

Another of the accused people, Alena Zsuzsová, handed over the order to kill Kuciak to Andruskó, who hired former police investigator Tomáš Szabó. Szabó cooperated on executing the order with former soldier Miroslav Marček.

According to the Slovak press, Andruskó, Marček, Szabó, and Zsuzsová are also accused of preparing the murders of two elite prosecutors as well as the lawyer and former Minister of Justice and Home Affairs Daniel Lipšic.

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