Bratislava, Slovakia – Miroslav Marcek, a former soldier and one of the four accused standing trial for the murder of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova, admitted earlier this week having carried out the contract killing of the investigative journalist and his fiancee.
Ex-soldier admits to killing Jan Kuciak and fiancee
Marcek, a 37-year-old ex-soldier, admitted to the court in Pezinok that he had been approached by Tomas Szabo, his cousin, with a contract from another one of the defendants to carry out the killing, before describing to the court how the events had unfolded.
According to reports, he said he waited outside the couple’s house and seized the opportunity to strike Kuciak when Martina Kusnirova went to the toilet. “He was falling backwards, he held on to the door with one hand and she came. It was not possible to just leave”, he further claimed, saying he had to kill her as well to keep her from identifying him.
Marcek, the only accused who has pleaded guilty, said he was sorry for his actions and felt the need to confess.
Middleman points finger at Kocner
In total, five people have been charged with the murder of the 27-year-old reporter, shot dead with his fiancee at their home in February 2018.
Zoltan Andrusko, one of the defendants who facilitated the killing, entered a plea deal with Slovak prosecutors to act as a witness in the trial of the four other accused, and received a more lenient sentence of 15 years in prison on December 30.
“I am terribly sorry about what happened”, Andrusko told the court this week, “it’s impossible to fix it, but I will try to do all I can to set things right”, saying he had acted as the middleman in the contract killing at the request of businessman Marian Kocner.
Three other defendants claim innocence
Tomas Szabo pleaded not guilty to the murder, while Alena Zsuzsova, another one of the accused, denies the charges of having acted as an intermediary between the team and Marian Kocner, a Slovak businessman suspected of having ordered the hit against Kuciak, whose investigative work had delved into his fraudulent business operations.
Kocner, too, has pleaded not guilty to the charges brought by the Slovak prosecutors. Several high-ranking officials, including the deputy-speaker of Parliament and a deputy-Justice minister, were forced to step down over the last few months due to their ties to Kocner revealed during the investigation.
The murder of Kuciak and Kusnirova nearly two years ago had sparked outrage in Slovakia and triggered mass protests that culminated in Prime Minister Robert Fico’s resignation and the election, last year, of Zuzana Caputova, a former anti-corruption lawyer and activist, as the country’s first female president.
The four defendants standing trial could face from 25 years to life imprisonment if convicted.
Main photo credit: Sme