A Journalist’s Undying Legacy

Credit: Svetlana Tiourina
Published: February 21, 2020

Two years have passed since investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, were gunned down in cold blood in their home south of Bratislava.

Kuciak had devoted his life to exposing crime and corruption in his native Slovakia, uncovering fraud after fraud in his reporting for local news outlet Aktuality.sk. At the time of his death, he was investigating how the Italian mafia had infiltrated the country’s political system.

The murder of the young couple, both just 27 when they died, was a watershed moment for Slovakia. Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets in protest, calling for a “decent Slovakia” for themselves and their children. The demonstrations set off a chain reaction that toppled senior government figures and forced the head of the police force to resign. The case also heralded the unexpected election of a liberal president, Zuzana Čaputová, a former environmental lawyer. Her first act as president-elect was to visit a streetside shrine commemorating Ján and Martina.

Five people have now been charged in connection with the deaths, including the notorious Slovakian businessman Marian Kočner, who is accused of masterminding the assassinations. But there remain unanswered questions about what other powerful figures may have known. We will keep trying to answer them.

At OCCRP, we are committed to the principle that even if you kill a journalist, you can never kill a story. This page brings together our investigations into Ján’s murder, our efforts to complete the journalistic work he left unfinished, and our coverage of the trial of his alleged killers.

It will also provide a locus for future stories pulled from a vast trove of data collected by police while investigating the murders — including files from Kočner’s phone and computer, where he kept damning evidence of blackmail, extortion, and bribery. We spent months working to safely process and catalogue this data. Now, it is freely available to journalists in an archive in Bratislava we are calling the Kočner Library. In an irony Ján might have appreciated, his death has granted Slovakian reporters unprecedented access to information on the kind of backdoor dealings he spent his career trying to understand.

OCCRP’s first story drawing on this material, written with our Slovakian and Czech member centers, offers an in-depth look at how Kočner used cash and kompromat to keep Slovakia’s justice system in his thrall.

Ján and Martina are no longer here, but the stories he told — and the stories still emerging about how the couple were murdered — will not be allowed to die.

News

Powerful Slovak Businessman Cleared of Murdering Journalist

Marian Kočner, who was accused of masterminding the killing of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, is cleared of murder.

3 September 2020 Read the article

Stories

Kočner’s World

Slovakian businessman Marian Kočner is on trial for ordering the murder of a young investigative journalist. New documents obtained from the investigation show how, for decades, he used cash and kompromat to bend the country’s judicial system to his will.

21 February 2020 Read the article

Previous Projects

A Murdered Journalist’s Last Investigation

In the days following Jan and Martina’s murder, OCCRP and our partners worked around the clock to finish his last story, and illuminate the world of corruption and organized crime he was investigating.

26 February 2018 Read the article

Unfinished Lives, Unfinished Justice

A year later, OCCRP and our partners continued to follow through on Jan’s reporting about the ’Ndrangheta mafia and, in a new investigation, raised troubling questions about the progress of the official inquiry into the murders.

18 February 2019 Read the article

The Aftermath

What Slovakia Showed Us

OPINION

In Slovakia’s election on Saturday, a long-time ruling party widely considered massively corrupt was shown the door. But the real story may be happening beneath the surface.

4 March 2020 Read the article

FAQ

Press Freedom and Corruption in the Dock

What you need to know about Slovakia’s ‘historic’ trial for the murder of Jan Kuciak.

15 January 2020 Read the article

Other Coverage of Ján and Martina

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