Kuciak retrial: New evidence, Kočner’s numerology defence, and cash wrapped in napkins

Here’s what happened during the Kuciak retrial in April.

Marian Kočner, pictured in court in Pezinok on April 21, 2023.Marian Kočner, pictured in court in Pezinok on April 21, 2023. (Source: TASR - Jaroslav Novák)

Alena Zsuzsová had nothing new to say to the Specialised Criminal Court on April 24. She merely repeated that she felt innocent and had masterminded no murder.

She stands accused of involvement in the February 2018 murders of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, as well as in the case of the planned murders of three prosecutors in 2017-2018. The two cases were merged into one trial last February. Alongside Zsuzsová, businessman Marian Kočner is also facing charges in both cases. Both are currently serving prison sentences following their convictions for other offences: Zsuzsová in the case of the murder of the mayor of Hurbanovo, and Kočner in the case of forged promissory notes.

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“No evidence which would prove that Kočner ordered any of these murders from me exists,” Zsuzsová told the court, as quoted by the Aktuality news website.

In summer 2020, she said she had no motive for ordering Kuciak's murder.

The Specialised Criminal Court initially acquitted Kočner of masterminding the killings, and Zsuzsová of acting as his associate, but the Supreme Court overturned the acquittals, citing procedural shortcomings, and returned the case to the same court to try it again.

Three convictions have already been secured in relation to the deaths of Kuciak and Kušnírová. Miroslav Marček (the gunman), Tomáš Szabó (the driver) and Zoltán Andruskó (a middleman) are currently serving prison sentences for their roles in the double murder.

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In April, Andruskó testified multiple times before the court as a witness. Zsuzsová maintained that he was a liar.

The convicted middleman stated that he had received a €20,000 advance payment from Zsuzsová for the planned murder of prosecutor Maroš Žilinka (who is now Slovakia's chief prosecutor), but Zsuzsová told the court this money was a loan so that Andruskó could renovate his flat. “I didn’t even know that a prosecutor called Žilinka existed,” she has told the court.

Andruskó also described how Zsuzsová used to pack cash into napkins, something she did not deny. The police found such cash packages at her home in 2018. However, she denied in April that she had given Andruskó cash in this form for the murder of Kuciak.

“She told me that Marian Kočner had ordered the murder,” Andruskó also told the court on April 24.

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