Journalist brutally murdered in Bulgaria

Cheryl Sanders
October 9, 2018

An investigative television journalist has been raped and murdered in Bulgaria's northern town of Ruse.

Police and prosecutors are investigating the death of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova, who hosted a show on the regional TVN channel.

Bulgarian police have said they are examining all possible motives for the killing, including the possibility that it was linked to her work.

Officials later confirmed to journalists that the victim was also raped.

He said no match had been found so far for DNA collected from the crime scene, which was close to a psychiatric clinic.

"The country has a bad image with regard to press freedom, but it's possible that there is no link to this case", said Svetoslav Terziev, opposition media analyst who also teaches journalism.

Bulgaria, which now holds the rotating EU Presidency, ranks last among all EU countries in terms of media freedom.

Meanwhile, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir, called on the authorities to "quickly determine" if this attack was "linked to her work".

A journalist is killed on average every week around the world, according to figures compiled by RSF.

"We are running out of live reporters to report on the dead ones", Drew Sullivan, editor and co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), warned of the danger to journalists. "Bulgarian authorities must employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible".

TVN said in a statement: "With great pain and insurmountable grief the TVN's team is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague Victoria Marinova and we pray for sympathy to the sorrow of her relatives and colleagues". Police have said the killings were connected to Kuciak's work, and they recently arrested several people suspected of involvement, including one man authorities believe was a paid hit man.

Frans Timmermans, commission vice-president, said he was "shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria [sic] Marinova".

She is the third reporter in the be murdered in the past year.

She had been reporting on this ongoing investigation over the past year.

The two reporters she spoke to were briefly detained after the show aired.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the country's best investigators have been put on the case. "Why do we keep leaving investigations to the very governments who the reporters are investigating when they are killed?" he added in a tweet. Joining the bloc opened an enormous spigot of possible new European Union funding for Bulgarian infrastructure projects or other programs created to bring the nation up to European Union standards - funds that were very attractive to both government officials and criminal networks. The Union of Publishers in Bulgaria, in a report issued in May, found that "growing collusion between publishers, oligarchs and political parties during the past decade has resulted in a major decline in the press freedom".

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Amidst the events, vigils have been planned in Ruse, Vidin, Pleven, and the capital city of Sofia.

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