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DECEMBER 2020

Bulgarian Journalist Found Raped And Murdered. She Was Covering Investigation Of Financial Frauds Of EU Politicians, Businessmen

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Bulgarian Journalist Found Raped And Murdered. She Was Covering Investigation Of Financial Frauds Of EU Politicians, Businessmen

Viktoria Marinova. IMAGE: TVN.bg / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA

On October 6th, a Bulgarian journalist, Viktoria Marinova was found brutally raped and murdered in Bulgaria’s northern town of Ruse.

The body of the 30-year-old woman was found by a passerby in bushes near the pier on the Danube river, according to Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev. “Her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing,” he said.

Initially, the Ministry of Interior confirmed the murder, without providing any additional information.

According to reports, later confirmed by the Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, prior to the murder Marinova was also raped. She was disfigured due to blows to the head and suffocated to death.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov expressed hope that the investigation would succeed because of the “work that has been done.”

“Thanks to the large amount of DNA material collected it is just a matter of time before the perpetrator will be found,” he said.

Bulgarian Police is working on several versions, however there is no information that her killing is linked to her work.

She was a TV host, and her last aired show happened on September 30th when she interviewed investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project, about an investigation of alleged fraud with EU funds linked to big businessmen and politicians.

The pair were briefly detained by police, drawing condemnation from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Her colleagues from TVN were staggered by the event. “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats – aimed at her or the television,” a journalist from TVN told AFP under a condition of anonymity, adding that he and his colleagues feared for their safety.

Bulgarian media reports said that over the last year Marinova had reported on an ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving European Union funds for the broadcaster TVN. She also worked on a program focusing on social issues and was involved with charity work.

“With enormous pain and insurmountable grief the team of TVN television is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague, Victoria Marinova,” TVN said in a statement. “Therefore we ask for sympathy for the sorrow of relatives and colleagues. A bow in her memory!”

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bulgarian authorities to conduct a “rigorous, thorough investigation” into the killing.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) media freedom representative Harlem Desir condemned Marinova’s killing on Twitter: “Shocked by horrific murder of investigative journalist Victoria Marinova in #Bulgaria. Urgently call for a full and thorough investigation. Those responsible must be held to account.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bulgarian authorities to conduct a “rigorous, thorough investigation” into the killing.

“CPJ is shocked by the barbaric murder of journalist Victoria Marinova,” said CPJ European Union Representative Tom Gibson in Brussels. “Bulgarian authorities must employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible.”

Bulgaria was ranked in the lower half regarding world press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders. The country ranked 111th out of 180 countries.

Three journalists have been killed in the EU this year. Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bombing in October in Malta and Jan Kuciak was murdered in Slovakia in February.

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