Intermediary in Journalist Jan Kuciak’s Murder Jailed for 15 Years in Slovakia

Intermediary in Journalist Jan Kuciak’s Murder Jailed for 15 Years in Slovakia

The go-between is the only one out of a total of five defendants in the high-profile gangland killing who has cooperated with the Slovak investigators.

A man who acted as an intermediary in the 2018 assassination of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová was sentenced to 15 years in prison in Slovakia, in the first sentence in the high-profile trial.

42-year-old Zoltán Andruskó confessed to his role as a go between the Slovak journalist’s murder, and got the 15-year prison sentence as a result of a plea deal.

He is the only one of the total of five people charged over Jan Kuciak’s assassination to have cooperated with the investigation, The Slovak Spectator reported.

The four other suspects had a preliminary hearing at the Specialized Criminal Court in Slovakia’s Pezinok on December 19, 2019, and their trial is set to begin on January 13, 2020, nearly two years after the high-profile gangland killing of the 27-year-old investigative reporter and his fiancée.

Kuciak, who was an investigative journalist for the Aktuality.sk website, and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová were killed on February 21, 2018, in their home in Slovakia’s Veľká Mača, Trnava Region.

Kuciak dealt mostly with stories on tax fraud, government corruption, and ties between Slovak politicians and the Italian mafia.

The brutal murder of the Slovak journalist made global headlines, rattling Slovakia’s politics, including by triggering mass anti-corruption protests, forcing then Prime Minister Robert Fico to resign, and contributing to the election of anti-corruption activist Zuzana Čaputová to the country’s Presidency.

The person charged with ordering Jan Kuciak’s assassination is a murky Slovak businessman, Marian Kocner.

The first individual to have been sentenced for the murder, Zoltán Andruskó, confessed to having passed the order from Alena Zsuzsová, a close collaborator of Marian Kočner, to the hitmen, Miroslav Marček and Tomáš Szabó, a former soldier.

Assassination intermediary Andruskó began cooperating with the investigation soon after he was detained in September 2018. If he had not confessed and cooperated with investigators, he would have faced a life sentence.

“Andruskó traded human life. He sold a value that the Penal Code strictly protects. And he subsequently traded his punishment,” said Judge Pamela Záleská, who chaired the senate of the Specialized Criminal Court that approved the deal on December 30, 2019.

The Slovak court also made it clear that it had decided to impose a longer sentence as the intermediary in Kuciak’s assassination had agreed to a 10-year prison term with the prosecutors, and that Andruskó had accepted the decision.

The other four defendants in the Kuciak murder trial are pleading not guilty and face life sentences.

(Banner image: Video grab from YouTube)

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