Slovak police hold 7 over murder of reporter, girlfriend

Aktuality.sk writes in a note on Kuciak's unfinished article that the portal has cooperated with the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism, the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) organisation and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) worldwide organisation in tracing the activities of Italian mafia in Slovakia.

Bela Bugar, from the Most-Hid party of mostly ethnic Hungarians, also said Thursday that foreign investigators should join the team probing the murder as both steps would increase public trust in the investigation.

Kuciak and his fiancée were found dead on Sunday at his home in Velka Maca, 65km east of the capital Bratislava. They are unpopular and thousands rallied past year in Bratislava and other cities to demand their resignation, with protesters alleging that they prevented the proper investigation of corruption scandals.

Thursday's requests will likely cause tensions in the governing coalition, as Kalinak is a key ally of Fico in his leftist Smer-Social Democracy party.

Kuciak also investigated allegations of abuse of European Union funds.

Interior Minister Robert Kalinak said on Facebook on Thursday that Italian police, Europol, the FBI and Scotland Yard had pledged to help with the investigation. Two of those mentioned by Kuciak resigned Tuesday, although they denied any connection to organized crime or the killings. The men ranged from 26 to 62 years old.

Mr Gaspar identified one of those held as "Antonino V"; the other six first names he gave are also common in Italy and extremely rare in Slovakia.

People in Bratislava hold a vigil for murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner Martina Kusnirova
People in Bratislava hold a vigil for murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his partner Martina Kusnirova

Police in Slovakia said Thursday that they have detained three businessmen named in a report on organized crime and corruption that was written by a slain Slovak journalist and published posthumously earlier this week.

Italian prosecutors said they had alerted their Slovak and worldwide colleagues "some time ago" to the Calabrians who were detained, and had provided information about their alleged 'Ndrangheta links.

The Respekt.cz server writes that the respective connection is journalist Pavla Holcova, founder of the Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism, who cooperated with Kuciak recently on an article about the links of people around Fico to the mafia.

Prime Minister Fico on Monday offered a reward of €1 million (Rs 7.94 crore) for information on Kuciak's murderers.

The country's police chief, Tibor Gaspar, told reporters in the eastern town of Michalovce that about 10 people should be detained. "I can confirm that these raids and detentions are being carried out in several places", he said. "Yes, it has something to do with this case".

Italian police alerted Slovak police and worldwide bodies "some time ago" on the the group of Calabrians arrested in the eastern European country on Thursday, judicial sources said on Thursday.

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