“I trust that this brutal deed will be clarified and its motive and those who ordered it will be found,” PM Peter Pellegrini wrote on his Facebook profile in reaction to the news that the police have detained a group of people suspected of participating in the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová.
Only then can the murder “stop dividing our society”, Pellegrini added after he praised the police and the prosecutors for their professional work and asserted that solving the murder is one of the priorities of his government, which replaced the government of Robert Fico, who resigned following the murder and the massive protests it triggered.
Who hired them?
Opposition politicians also stressed the need to find not only the murderer but those who hired this person. Igor Matovič, leader of opposition OLaNO, stated so as quoted by Sme.
“We can only trust that the police did not follow a fake lead and it has enough evidence and the investigation is being conducted professionally,” SaS deputy chair Ľubomír Galko wrote as quoted by the SITA newswire.
The For Decent Slovakia initiative, which has organised another protest to take place this Friday after the summer break, stressed that the protest will take place.
“We need to keep asking who ordered the murder, why Jan had to be silenced?” Juraj Šeliga and Karolína Farská from the initiative wrote in their press statement.
Journalists are cautiously hopeful
Journalists who worked with Ján Kuciak expressed cautious optimism in reaction to the news about the detained suspects.
“Of course we are pleased with all the information that suggests or confirms that the police have progressed towards solving the murder of Ján and Martina,” Peter Bárdy, editor-in-chief of the Aktuality.sk news website that Kuciak worked for, told the Sme daily. He added that he believes that not just the murderer but those who hired him will end up in prison.
Marek Vagovič, investigative reporter of Aktuality.sk, noted that there has been progress in the investigation, which is cause for his moderate optimism.
“Today’s raid is a logical consequence of the tactical measures the police took by publishing the identikit of an alleged witness,” Vagovič told Sme and added that he wants to believe the police will collect sufficient evidence against the culprits.
“Investigative reporting has taught me to be patient, so I reckon the road to justice will be long and thorny. I hope that the truth will prevail in the end – regardless whom it concerns,” he said.
Zuzana Petková, former investigative reporter of the Trend weekly, and now head of the Stop Corruption foundation who collaborated with Kuciak, is also hopeful.
“For now, I am cautious in my evaluation, as I do not have enough information. And we still remember that the police had already detained suspects before, at the very start, when they were following the drug lead, which was not confirmed,” Petková noted as quoted by Sme, adding that the key issue is whether those who hired the murderer will be found.
Sme daily investigative reporter Adam Valček, who also worked with Kuciak, did not want to comment on the recent development.
“I am very skeptical,” he said.
Holcová: Trust is key
Kuciak’s closest collaborator, Czech investigative reporter Pavla Holcova, who worked with Kuciak on his last, unfinished, story, noted that the situation is similar in Malta, where reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed five months before Kuciak. It is clear who the murderers are but there is no trace of the person who hired them.
Holcová, whose mobile phone the police seized in May as part of the investigation, causing an uproar among the journalistic community, insists that trust in the police and state institutions is key.
“When the trust fades, the police cannot afford to gamble with their seriousness by publishing news like this, bringing hope that justice will be served,” Holcová said as quoted by Sme. “I hope there are no such gamblers at NAKA and this is not just some superficial police training.”