February 19, 2019

Daphne’s sister wants Europe-wide action to stop journalist murders

09 October 2018, 08:46 | Regina Holmes

Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova's body was found in a park Credit HO

Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova's body was found in a park

As Bulgarian authorities investigate whether the rape and killing of Viktoria Marinova was a random crime or connected to her investigative reporting, the case has turned a spotlight on impediments to a free press in a country where journalists are often subjected to intimidation and threats.

That appearance was her first time anchoring the show on Ruse-based TV station TVN - a popular channel in northeastern Bulgaria.

In the week before her murder, Marinova presented a TV show that broadcast interviews with reporters from the Bivol website on alleged fraud involving European Union funds linked to businessmen and politicians.

Her body was recovered from the Danube river bank on Saturday, police said.

Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said Ms Marinova had suffered blows to the head and was suffocated in the fatal attack, adding that her "mobile phone, auto keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing".

Bulgarian Interior Minister Mladen Marinov confirmed the rape and killing.

Bulgaria's top prosecutor says authorities have no new leads on the motives for the rape and slaying of a Bulgarian television reporter.

He said his site had received "operational information that hits against our journalists working on this story are being discussed and prepared".

The killings were part of a wider trend, according to Dimitrios Papadimoulis, a left-wing Greek MEP, who said "corruption is threatening democracy" in Europe.

Margaritis Schinas, spokesman for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, said Monday the commission expected "a swift and thorough investigation. that will bring those responsible to justice and clarify whether this attack was linked to her work".

According to Reporters Without Borders, Bulgaria sits at 111 on the World Press Freedom Index, however until now, no journalists have been killed this year.

Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who investigated local government corruption, was killed in October 2017 by a bomb that destroyed her auto. He said there was no evidence to suggest that the murder was linked to her work.

"We are in shock", the man said, asking not to be named since he was not authorized to speak publicly.

"We are shocked and saddened by the horrific murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova".

Marinova's murder has drawn global condemnation and calls from media watchdogs for a comprehensive investigation.

Bulgaria tumbled down to 111th place in the annual RSF media freedom ranking in 2018 - lower than any other European Union member state.

Marinova is the fourth high-profile journalist to be killed in Europe since the beginning of 2017.

Europe must act together to stop the murder of journalists investigating corruption, the sister of one of those killed has said.

The European anti-fraud office OLAF declined to comment on the killing, but its press office said it was "aware of allegations concerning possible misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria that have been brought to light by journalists in recent weeks". In February the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend were shot to death in Slovakia.

Some already speculate that the woman might have been the victim of her latest report.

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