Verdicts in Slovak journalist's murder trial delayed to September

PRAGUE (Reuters) – A Slovak court has postponed verdicts in the trial of a businessman and others charged with killing an investigative journalist in 2018, a case that shocked the nation and reshaped its political landscape.

A court spokeswoman said a hearing would take place on Sept. 3, shifted from a planned verdict on Wednesday, to give more time to review the rulings.

The murders of Jan Kuciak and his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova, sparked mass protests and forced then prime minister Robert Fico to step down amid public anger over perceived graft in public life.

Fico’s Smer party lost a general election to anti-corruption politician Igor Matovic’s party in February, ending the leftist group’s nearly decade-and-a-half rule in the central European country.

Anger over the killings and demands to end corruption have remained a strong theme in civic life since mass protests two years ago that were sparked by the killings at Kuciak’s home in February 2018.

Prosecutors say Slovak entrepreneur Marian Kocner, the subject of Kuciak’s reporting on corruption involving politically connected businesspeople, had contracted the reporter’s killing.

He and two co-defendants, who deny wrongdoing, face 25 years in prison if found guilty.

Two others have already been sentenced after admitting guilt. A former soldier received 23 years in prison in April for shooting and killing Kuciak and his fiancee while a fifth suspect admitted to arranging Kuciak’s murder and was jailed for 15 years in December.

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