Bulgarian investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova raped and murdered

Lamar Ellis
October 9, 2018

The European commission has urged Bulgarian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the brutal killing of the journalist Viktoria Marinova, who had been reporting on alleged corruption in one of the EU's newest member states.

They spoke after Viktoria Marinova, a 30-year old investigative journalist, was suffocated and beaten to death in a park in Ruse, in northeast Bulgaria, on Saturday (6 October).

"Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, vehicle keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing", Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said.

Ruse Regional Prosecutor Georgi Georgiev told state media that Marinova's mobile phone, auto keys, glasses and part of her clothing were missing when her body was found. Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, auto keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing, he said.

The two journalists - Attila Biro of the Romanian Rise Project, and Dimitar Stoyanov, a reporter for Bivol.bg - had uncovered "large-scale and wide-spread corruption" in EU-funded projects in Bulgaria worth hundreds of millions of Bulgarian leva, the European Council said.

Ms Marinova is the third European journalist to be killed in the past year. "Bulgarian authorities must employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible".

"We are working on all possible motives and we do not exclude any", Marinov told reporters on Monday in Ruse, Bulgaria's main river port.

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The Bulgarian government said it had no evidence that Marinova's murder was linked to her work.

The motivation behind her killing remains unknown, and Bulgarian authorities say they have yet to establish a link between her death in the northeastern city of Ruse and her work as a journalist.

Marinova's slaying follows those of prominent journalists in Malta and Slovakia, with both murders linked to their work and both sparking public outrage.

A veteran TV reporter, Marinova for many years hosted a lifestyle show and also served as a member of the management team of TVN.

Bivol's owner Asen Yordanov stated that the murder of Marinova is a warning for other journalists. "We can not downplay any possibility and any version, but if you are investigating the killing, you are looking for a motive", he said.

Bulgaria is regarded as a laggard in the European Union in matters of press freedom, ranking 111th out of a total 180 in this area, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Reporters Without Borders said other TVN journalists should get police protection during the investigation.

At a previously scheduled meeting on October 7 of officials from the Interior Ministry, the Prosecutor-General's Office, and security agencies, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov promised that investigators would solve the case. He accused the mainstream media of leading a "massive smear campaign" against him.

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