The last article of a young Slovakian investigative reporter was published in homage to his passing Wednesday. Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were murdered and found shot to death in their home Sunday.
The headline of Kuciak's last article reads, "Italian Mafia In Slovakia; Its Tentacles Reach As Far As Politics" and it was published by a number of online journals in support after the young couple's untimely passing.
Police say the attack bears all the hallmarks of a contract killing and has left the small country reeling. The body of Kuciak's last article describes links between Italian mafia and figures close to the Prime Minister, Robert Fico. A photo of the young journalist surrounded by flowers crowns his last article published posthumously.
The article goes on to allege that Italian businessmen with ties to the feared Calabrian organized crime syndicate the 'Ndrangheta have migrated into eastern Slovakia. Kuciak alleges the group has spent years embezzling EU funds for the relatively poor region on the Ukraine border.
The men Kuciak refers to have cultivated business ties with senior officials, including people close to the Italian prime minister. Among them is a former glamour model named Maria Troskova who was the prime minister's "chief state adviser" until Wednesday. Another of the alleged criminals is Troskova's former boss Viliam Jasan who was secretary of Slovakia's national security council.
The pair announced in a joint statement they would step down from their roles in government immediately until the accusations have been thoroughly investigated. A friend of Kuciak and fellow investigative journalist named Monika Todova said, "These claims of mafia involvement might sound like science fiction."
"But it was already like living in a dream to wake up on Monday morning and hear that Jan was dead, that someone had murdered him in his home. I couldn't believe it. We were so absolutely shocked by it," Todova said. Todova writes for the Dennik N newspaper and her editor-in-chief Matus Kostolny said a line had been crossed with the double murder.
"It's the last chance to persuade people that Slovakia is not a country where a journalist can be killed because of his work and nothing can happen," Kostolny said. "Where politicians can be part of corruption scandals, and nothing happens, they stay in government."
Hours after the news broke of Kuciak and his fiancee's murder, a fire broke out at the regional tax authority in Slovakia. It took firemen almost 24 hours to bring the blaze under control. Officials are adamant the fire was not related to the double murders and was merely an accident.
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