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Slovakia: First suspect in Jan Kuciak murder case sentenced to 15 years in prison

Bratislava, Slovakia – Zoltan Andruskó, a key suspect in the Jan Kuciak murder case, has been sentenced to 15 years in jail by Slovak authorities for his role in the killing of the young investigative journalist and his fiancee in February last year.

Andruskó, who played a central part in facilitating the murder of Jan Kuciak, had entered a plea deal with Slovak prosecutors after his arrest in September, agreed to cooperate with them and serve as a witness in the trial of the four other suspects, in exchange for a more lenient ruling.

Although Slovak prosecutors in charge of the case had initially proposed a 10-year jail sentence, the court on Monday rejected the idea and sentenced Andruskó to spend 15 years behind bars – compared to the 25 years he originally faced.

According to the investigation, Andruskó, 42, had been the key link between the different parties involved in the assassination of Jan Kuciak, serving as the middleman between the crew of hit-men of Miroslav Marček and Tomáš Szabó, who carried out the execution, and Alena Zsuzsová, who commissioned it on behalf of businessman Marian Kocner.

Due to his role in the murder of Jan Kuciak, Slovak businessman and suspect n°1 Marian Kocner became, earlier this month, the second EU citizen to be added on the U.S. blacklist.

The trial of the four other accused, who have refused to cooperate and were officially charged with the murder last October, will start on January 13. If found guilty of the charges, they could face from 25 years in jail to life imprisonment.

The murder, last year, of investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in their home unleashed a wave of public outrage and triggered an unprecedented political crisis. Slovaks took to the streets en masse to demand justice for the journalist who was, at the time of his murder, investigating corruption and the links between politicians and private interests, including Marian Kocner’s shady business dealings.

Prime Minister Robert Fico was forced to step down in the wake of the murder, and a number of high-ranking politicians and officials have, since then, also resigned in light of the ongoing investigation.

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