“You are connecting innocent people with double murder. That is over the line,” Prime Minister Robert Fico said during his press conference on February 27 in his reaction to the links between the Government's Office employee, Mária Trošková, and business people possibly connected to the Italian organised crime group, 'Ndrangheta.
Fico reacted to the story that the Sme daily published on the morning of the same day. This story is the result of an investigation that the Sme reporters worked on together with investigative reporter Ján Kuciak, who was found killed in his house in Veľká Mača the day before. The murder of a journalist is unprecedented in Slovakia. What is more, Kuciak's fiancée Martina Kušnírová was also shot dead.
Fico insisted during the press conference that the information in the story about Trošková has been known since September 2016 when Plus 7 Dní wrote about her.
Fico held the press conference together with Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák and Police Corps President Tibor Gašpar. During the press conference, they displayed packs of banknotes, amounting to one million euros, which the government promises to give to anyone who comes forward with relevant information that can help clarify the murder.
Fico also stands by the secretary of the Security Council Viliam Jasaň who is also mentioned among the people with dubious links in the story published by Sme. He holds the highest level of security clearance, top secret, Fico noted.
“I will act based on the results of the investigation,” Fico said when asked whether he would draw consequences against the man.
Gašpar admitted the police are also investigating ‘Ndrangheta and Antonino Vadala, the Italian citizen whom the story mentions as the business partner of Mária Trošková.
“We are also considering this version and we work with all the persons who come into consideration,” Gašpar said.
Opposition wants Kaliňák and Gašpar to step down
Fico and Kaliňák claim that the murder has launched a massive investigation that gets disturbed by the opposition attempts to make it the object of a political fight.
The opposition Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) and Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) held a joint press conference earlier that afternoon where they accused Smer top politicians of links with the Italian mafia and its activities in eastern Slovakia.
Igor Matovič of OĽaNO claims Kaliňák and Gašpar are responsible for the murders.
“They sent Ján Kuciak, after he filed the criminal complaint, from one office to another," he said, as quoted by Sme. "He demanded help and no one from the police or prosecution helped him after more than 40 days. What is more, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák was making jokes about it. Kaliňák and Gašpar bear the responsibility for the security of people in this country and due to their failure to prevent this brutal assassination they should step down.”
SaS MP Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová believes the links between MPs and Italians could be the reason why Kuciak was “removed”.
“Tom Nicholson was dealing with the Italian mafia together with Ján Kuciak," she said, as quoted by Sme. "These are people who have been investigated by the police, even monitored by the SIS, therefore it does not surprise me if this was a reason for them to silence a journalist.”
Protest gatherings organised
The opposition wants to convene an extraordinary session of the parliamentary committee for the control of SIS where they will ask about the monitoring of the suspicious persons from Italy.
The opposition has organised protest gatherings in Bratislava for Wednesday, February 28.