IPI wel­comes Slo­vak pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to jus­tice in Ku­ciak mur­der

Sunday Trust - - MEDIA -

Pres­i­dent An­drej Kiska tells In­ter­na­tional Press In­sti­tute (IPI) he is ‘op­ti­mistic’ that mas­ter­mind will be held to ac­count

The In­ter­na­tional Press In­sti­tute (IPI), a global net­work of jour­nal­ists, ed­i­tors and me­dia ex­ec­u­tives for me­dia free­dom, to­day wel­comed the strong sup­port ex­pressed by Slo­vakia Pres­i­dent An­drej Kiska for en­sur­ing that the mas­ter­mind be­hind the mur­der of jour­nal­ist Ján Ku­ciak and his fi­ancée are brought to jus­tice.

An IPI del­e­ga­tion, led by Ex­ec­u­tive Board Chair Markus Spill­mann, for­mer ed­i­tor-in-chief of Switzer­land’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, met with Kiska to­day in Bratislava to dis­cuss the sta­tus of the mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion as well as other press free­dom is­sues in Slo­vakia.

Ku­ciak and his fi­ancée, Martina Kušnírová, were shot dead in their home on Feb­ru­ary 20. An in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist with the news web­site Ak­tu­al­ity.sk, Ku­ciak had been re­port­ing on high­level cor­rup­tion prior to his mur­der. In Septem­ber, Slo­vak po­lice charged four peo­ple in the crime, in­clud­ing the hit­man and a woman sus­pected of order­ing the killing at a mid­dle level. Au­thor­i­ties are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the iden­tity of the ul­ti­mate mas­ter­mind.

Spill­mann em­pha­sized that jus­tice could not be con­sid­ered done un­til the con­vic­tion of the mas­ter­mind. Kiska agreed, and ex­pressed op­ti­mism that the mas­ter­mind would be found.

“They (the in­ves­ti­ga­tors) have a done a good job, which is a good sig­nal for our so­ci­ety”, the pres­i­dent said. “Now we are wait­ing to find out who was be­hind the mur­der.”

In the meet­ing, IPI rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­clud­ing IPI Deputy Di­rec­tor Scott Grif­fen and IPI Head of Ad­vo­cacy Ravi R. Prasad, ex­pressed con­cern over en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tors af­fect­ing press free­dom and jour­nal­ist safety in Slo­vakia. For his part, Kiska un­der­scored the dan­gers for jour­nal­ist safety of rhetoric that top Slo­vak gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials had used to­ward jour­nal­ists in the past, which has in­cluded call­ing them “snakes” and “anti-Slo­vak pros­ti­tutes”.

“We as politi­cians should ac­cept that we are al­ways un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion by jour­nal­ists”, he said. “We should be care­ful with the words we use when speak­ing about the work of jour­nal­ists.”

Kiska in­di­cated that an­tipress rhetoric had im­proved since the po­lit­i­cal up­heaval that fol­lowed Ku­ciak’s mur­der, which the in­cluded the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Robert Fico. Still, the pres­i­dent in­di­cated that much more work was nec­es­sary to change Slo­vak politi­cians’ at­ti­tude to­ward jour­nal­is­tic scru­tiny. The pres­i­dent also ex­pressed con­cern over the con­cen­tra­tion of me­dia own­er­ship in the hands of agenda-driven own­ers, which he said had the po­ten­tial to in­crease jour­nal­is­tic self-cen­sor­ship.

Spill­mann said he was pleased with the frank and open dis­cus­sion with the Slo­vak pres­i­dent.

“We are sat­is­fied with the willing­ness of the pres­i­dent to bring all those be­hind the mur­der to jus­tice”, he said. “But there is still a long way to go and it is es­sen­tial to keep up pub­lic and in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to en­sure that im­punity does not take hold in Slo­vakia.” (IPI)

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