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Slovak entrepreneur charged with ordering journalist murder

AFP  |  Bratislava 

Slovak prosecutors said Thursday they had charged with ordering the murder of investigative Jan Kuciak, whose killing during a corruption probe triggered mass protests and toppled the country's

had been investigating Kocner's business activities at the time of his death, one of several stories he had been working on when he was gunned down with his fiancee at home in February 2018.

"The reason for the murder was the journalistic work of the victim," a told reporters in who was left unnamed for security reasons.

The the said Kocner, who has a number of property development and investment businesses, was charged on March 8 with "ordering the murder".

Kuciak's last explosive report, published posthumously and unrelated to Kocner, alleged ties between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia.

The murders and the journalist's investigation plunged the EU member of 5.4 million people into crisis, raising concerns about and corruption.

Then was forced to resign but remains the of the ruling populist-left and is a close ally of

The latest move in the case comes days before the eurozone member's

Last year, prosecutors charged four suspects in connection with the murders, including a woman identified as

reported that had worked as an interpreter for Kocner, who is believed to have ties to members of Smer-SD.

Peter Bardy, Kuciak's at the website, claimed in September 2017 that Kocner had called to threaten him. Kocner had vowed to set up a website publishing information on reporters' private lives, according to the leading SME daily.

The 55-year-old multi-millionaire, who owns more than a dozen companies, was detained by police in June on suspicion of fraud. He is still in custody.

"It is not excluded that further individuals will be accused of participating in the murder," the said Thursday.

The prosecutor added that "we do not yet have the weapon but we have evidence as to what kind of weapon it was".

ranked 27 out of 180 countries in the (RSF) World Press Freedom Index 2018, falling ten places in a year.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, March 14 2019. 20:00 IST