One and a half years prior to the murder of investigative reporter Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in February 2018, controversial businessman Marian Kočner had five journalists followed.
Denník N cited sources from the environment of the criminal prosecution services who leaked information to the daily about the police interrogation of former journalist-turned-spy Peter Tóth. Tóth turned to the police on his own initiative days after four people were arrested and charged with the murder and admitted that he worked for Kočner.
In reaction to the Denník N article, Tóth denied the police have a testimony with his name and signature on it in the murder investigation file.
Tóth and Kočner
The two men had cooperated in the past and Tóth called Kočner his friend.
According to Denník N, Tóth told the investigators that he followed five journalists one and a half years before the murders: Kuciak and his boss, head of Aktuality.sk investigative news desk Marek Vagovič, Sme reporter Adam Valček, Denník N reporter Monika Tódová and Týždeň weekly Editor-in-Chief Štefan Hríb. He admitted that he followed more people but did not name them. Tóth admitted that he took pictures, videos, and wrote analyses about the people he followed, Denník N wrote.
Tóth also told the police that Kočner wanted compromising material for a defamation campaign against the journalists and paid him thousands of euros for the job.
Kočner did start his own show on Facebook shortly before he was arrested and taken into custody in June. He published a video on Facebook that contained sensitive personal information about Sme reporter Adam Valček.
Following people is a crime under Slovak law.
Tóth worked for the Sme daily in the 1990s but was forced to leave his post when it transpired that he simultaneously worked for the secret service. In 2003 he was appointed head of the counter-intelligence service. He was later forced to leave that post as well.
Tóth did not contact the police until October 5, according to Denník N - eight months after the murders. According to the daily, he insisted that he asked Kočner about the murders and when the latter told him he had nothing to do with it, Tóth was satisfied with the answer.
"Often I only learned that he was invovled in some businesses, financial transactions and such from the media. I never discussed such things with him, I never had any business with him, I never was part of any of his business," Tóth told the Sme daily on October 4.
Tóth now claims he believes Kočner might have been involved in the murder as Alena Zs. is one of the people charged. In addition another suspect, Zoltán A., who is cooperating with the police, pointed at Kočner as the man who ordered the murder.
In the weeks that followed her arrest, media reports have linked Alena Zs. and Kočner multiple times. Originally she was reported to have been his Italian interpreter. Later the father of her daughter said the girl would call Kočner godfather even though he was not.
The fact remains, based on the Specialised Criminal Court documents from the hearing of Alena Zs., that she received regular "allowances" from Kočner, at first €2,000 a month, then later €1,400 a month.
Tóth told the police that before Kočner was taken into custody in a promissory notes case earlier this year, he asked Tóth to communicate with Alena Zs. to get from her the reports from a fortune teller that Kočner used to frequent, Denník N wrote. The daily also alleges that Tóth gathered from the communication between Alena Zs. and Kočner that they were lovers.
No comment from Tóth
Tóth declined to comment for Denník N about his testimony.
"I have no statement, I do not care about what Denník N wrote," Tóth told the Sme daily at first. Later he denied the information published by Denník N for the omediach.com media news website and accused the daily of lying and using "the language of the 1950s".
"I do not know what is in the investigation file but there is certainly no testimony with my name and my signature on it," Tóth told omediach.com.
Previously, on October 5, he published a statement on his website datel.sk in which he first revealed his doubts about Kočner and noted that "if the suspicions around him were confirmed, it would necessarily mean the end of our friendship" and "a huge disappointment".