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Key accused in the murder of Slovakian journalist acquitted

Yesterday, Marin Kocner, a Slovak Businessman, was acquitted of ordering the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak in 2018.


In February 2018, Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot in Velka Maca, a tiny village near the Slovak capital of Bratislava. Prosecutors accused Kocner of masterminding Kuciak’s murder in retaliation to the latter’s work, as an investigative journalist, of unearthing a web of corruption, which exposed the systemic corruption pervading Slovakia’s corridors of power. Specifically, he exposed Kocner’s financial shenanigans, including tax fraud.


The verdict was given by the Specialized Criminal Court at Pezinok, set up exclusively to handle the most serious and sensitive cases. On 21st October, 2019, four individuals: Kocner, Zsuzsova, Szabo, and Miroslav Marcek, were formally charged. Recently, the judge ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence establishing Marin Kocner’s role in the murder. However, another defendant- Tomas Szabo, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Marcek, an ex-soldier, who admitted to being hired to kidnap and kill Kuciak by narrating a grisly account of that day, was sentenced to 23 years in prison.


State prosecutors, as well as Kuciak’s family, vowed to appeal the judgment in the Supreme Court. “I’m disgusted and disappointed. I expected more from the justice system”, the victim’s father said.


Kocner maintained his innocence throughout the trial, saying, “I’m not dumb enough to not realize what repercussions a murder of a journalist might have”. He is one of the most powerful and well-connected businessmen in Slovakia, having links to the uppermost echelons of the Slovak state. And, his brush with the law isn’t new.

As part of the investigation, around 200 individuals were questioned and eight suspects were arrested. The investigating team worked with the Italian and European Police (Europol), analyzed a whopping 50 TB of mobile and CCTV data, and presented forty evidence items.


The prosecution obtained the testimony of a former intelligence official who admitted that Kocner had hired him to track Kuciak’s daily routines. Zoltan Andrusko, a suspect in the murder, agreed to cooperate with the police and become a prosecution witness; he testified that Kocner had ordered the journalist’s murder. Additionally, an unexplained transaction of 50,000 Euros was also made from Kocner’s account to Zsuzsova (one of the accused) hours after the murder. The police also obtained devices containing a backup of Kocner’s personal texts on the encrypted messaging app Threema, where Kocner is seen to be using unusual metaphors like “snow” and “tooth” for murder.


This February, Kocner was convicted and sentenced to nineteen years of imprisonment for defrauding an American TV network. Kuciak had uncovered numerous Kocner-controlled sham businesses while working for the news website Aktuality.sk. His last article, published days before his death, provided a scathing exposé of Kocner’s coercive plans to take over private companies using the State Intelligence Service.


The murder proved to be a watershed moment for the whole of Slovakia, leading to outrage among the masses against organized crime and graft pervading Slovakia’s corridors of power. Protestors demanded an independent investigation into the murder, as well as a purge of the corporate-political criminal nexus. This eventually led to the fall of the government led by then Prime Minister Robert Fico. A year after the protests, voters dealt a shock to the establishment by electing Zuzana Caputova, an “outsider” with no political experience, as President.


The mass uprising also induced state prosecutors to raid several locations linked to the businessmen named in Kuciak’s reports, inc…

[3:15 PM, 9/4/2020] +91 78994 06381: Reporter- Shreyas Datar

[4:33 PM, 9/4/2020] +91 99726 05048: A Profile On Mike Pence, The Vice President of the United States


Michael Richard Pence (conceived June 7, 1959) is an American legislator and lawyer filling in as the 48th and current VP of the United States, since 2017. He recently was the 50th legislative leader of Indiana from 2013 to 2017 and an individual from the United States House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.


In 2013, Pence marked a law blocking nearby governments in Indiana from expecting organizations to offer higher wages or advantages past those required by bureaucratic law. In 2015, Pence additionally canceled an Indiana law that necessary development organizations chipping away at freely subsidized tasks to pay a predominant wage. Indiana ordered option to-work enactment under Pence's forerunner, Republican lead representative Mitch Daniels. Under Pence, the state effectively shielded this enactment against a work challenge.[84] In 2013, Pence likewise reported the arrangement of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute, a day to day existence sciences research office upheld with $25 million in startup assets from the state.


During his residency as lead representative, Pence upheld noteworthy increments in instruction financing to pre-schools, voucher projects, and sanction schools, however regularly conflicted with supporters of customary open schools. In 2014, barely one year subsequent to getting down to business, Pence built up a $10 million state preschool experimental run program in Indiana and affirmed by and by before the state Senate Education Committee for the program to persuade individual Republicans (a few of whom restricted the proposition) to endorse the plan. Although the arrangement was at first vanquished, Pence effectively figured out how to restore it, "getting Indiana off the rundown of only 10 expresses that spent no immediate assets to enable helpless kids to go to preschool." Demand for enlistment in the program "far overwhelmed" limit, and Pence from the outset would not make a difference for up to $80 million in government Health and Human Services Preschool Development Grant program funding, contending that "Indiana must build up our own pre-K program without administrative intrusion." After going under continued analysis for this position, Pence switched course and tried to apply for the funds.



In 2015, Pence made sure about huge increments in sanction school financing from the enactment, despite the fact that he didn't get all that he had proposed. Legislation marked into law by Pence in 2013 enormously expanded the quantity of understudies in Indiana who fit the bill for school vouchers, making it one of the biggest voucher programs in the United States. The yearly expense of the program is assessed to be $53 million for the 2015–16 school year.


In 2014, over the resistance of Indiana school associations, Pence marked a bill which permits guns to be kept in vehicles on school property. In 2015, after a shooting in Chattanooga, Pence selected the National Rifle Association to prepare the Indiana National Guard on disguised convey. Some National Guard authorities from different states addressed why a regular citizen association would be engaged with a military issue. In May 2015, Pence marked into law Senate Bill 98, which restricted claims against firearm and ammo producers and dealers and retroactively ended the City of Gary's as yet forthcoming 1999 claim against weapon makers and retailers that purportedly made unlawful deals of handguns. The bill was upheld by Republicans, for example, state representative Jim Tomes, who trusted the measure would pull in more weapon related organizations to Indiana, yet contradicted by Gary chairman and previous Indiana lawyer general Karen Freeman-Wilson, who saw the measure as "a remarkable infringement of the division of forces between the authoritative and legal parts of


state government." In 2016, Pence marked Senate Bill 109 into law, authorizing the hostage chasing of ranch brought deer up in Indiana.


Reporter: Adithi S

Bangalore, India | epicenter.newsmedia@gmail.com

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