Brussels to look into suspicious agricultural subsidies

The Slovak Interior Ministry says help has been offered by international investigative institutions like Europol, the FBI and Scotland Yard.

Ján Kuciak's house in Veľká MačaJán Kuciak's house in Veľká Mača (Source: SME)

Following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, the European Commission plans to reassess the manner in which the agricultural subsidies allocated from EU funds are used in Slovakia.

“We will scrutinise this case thoroughly,” European Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, Günther Oettinger, said in an interview with the German daily Die Welt, as quoted by the ČTK newswire.

He considers it possible that subsidies have been misused for “criminal activities”.

Oettinger also criticised top Slovak politicians who, according to him, opted for general insults aimed at the media. At the same time, however, he stressed that the EC fully trusts the Slovak authorities and their ability to solve the murders, ČTK wrote.

The European Commission has meanwhile sent a letter to the Agricultural Paying Agency (PPA), asking it to explain the subsidies for companies close to Italian businesspeople in eastern Slovakia, the Aktuality.sk website reported.

European Parliament wants to step in

At the same time, the European Parliament plans to discuss the freedom of press in Slovakia at its next plenary session in Strasbourg.

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“In two weeks’ time, at the plenary session, we want the case of the murdered journalist to become part of the programme of the EP and to discuss the freedom of the press in Slovakia,” David McAllister of EP’s Committee on Foreign Affairs told Die Welt.

The case has Europe-wide importance and a discussion by MEPs means it might receive the attention it deserves, McAllister added, as reported by ČTK.

Several MEPs meanwhile called on the respective authorities to immediately investigate the murders.

Europol supports investigation

The EU’s law enforcement agency, Europol, confirmed that they support Slovakia in investigating the murder of Kuciak and Kušnírová, its spokesperson Jan Op Gen Oorth confirmed.

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“Since Monday, I’ve been in contact with the most important investigative institutions in the world, from whom we’ve asked for help,” Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák wrote in a Facebook post.

The investigation has been joined by the Czech and Italian police and representatives of Europol, the FBI and Scotland Yard have confirmed their help, Kaliňák added.

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