The body of a Bulgarian journalist who reported on alleged corruption involving the local handling of EU funds was found in the city of Ruse Saturday.
Police said Viktoria Marinova had been raped and murdered.
A regional prosecutor said Marinova, 30, was killed by blows to the head and suffocation, and that her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing.
Marinova worked for a TV station based in Ruse, in northeast Bulgaria on the Danube River.
She hosted a popular program called “Detector.” The September 30 episode was about an investigation into alleged fraud involving EU funds linked to Bulgarian businessmen and politicians.
Bulgaria’s interior minister Mladen Marinov said there was no evidence the murder was related to Marinova’s work. “It is about rape and murder,” he said.
Officials across Europe called for a swift investigation.
“Those responsible should be brought to justice immediately by the Bulgarian authorities,” the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmerman tweeted.
EU Justice Minister Věra Jourová said other EU agencies could help in the investigation.
Shocked by the brutal murder of Victoria Marinova, a young Bulgarian journalist. I will follow closely the investigation and offer help by EU agencies, if needed. I expect urgent actions to bring those responsible to justice and to clarify if the attack was linked to her work.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) October 7, 2018
In October last year, Malta’s leading anti-corruption reporter, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was killed by a car bomb.
And in February this year, Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée were murdered in their home in what looked like a professional hit.
On Sunday, Tom Gibson of the Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bulgarian authorities to “employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible.”
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.
What happened with Viktoria Marinova is horrible and something everybody should consider inacceptable, especially by the authorities. Bulgaria's interior minister Mladen Marinov should not, and cannot, be heard saying "no evidence the murder was related to Marinova’s work and it is about rape and murder”. He may not minimize what happened to her. He had to send a very strong message to the nation to make anyone feel that its right is protected and defended by the police who act transparently. Today, businessmen and politicians, trying to avoid scandals may take what it takes to eliminate people by using meanings to disguise the real criminals. We are used to that in the movies today.
I wonder if her information came from the Panama Papers hack. It's courageous of journalistis to expose corruption but dangerous. The US government and other governmental entities are better positioned to confront corrupt governments, officials, kleptocrats, and the like. Perhaps journalists can be encouraged to perform a confidential whistle blowing role rather than risk their lives by publicly condemning corruption on their own.
I disagree, Asbjorn – you cannot rely on government agencies to investigate everything, particularly in other countries, or in states where corruption is rife. Journalists often have access to information that official agencies do not, and government agencies are limited in what they can publicise – the case that Viktoria was working on would be very unlikely to have been picked up by the US, and if it had it would be many years before it was publicised, so in the meantime the criminals would have continued to act unmolested. It takes a concerted approach by everyone to make progress, to highlight specific cases and, sadly, to make sacrifices that none of us would wish on anyone.
This has been a bad twelve months for investigative journalists in Europe, but it shows that their work is getting at the corrupt and criminal who masquerade as legitimate businessmen, politicians, or both. I hope they continue to shine a spotlight on those who put personal aggrandisement above the needs of the society they live in. I hope they continue.
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