Bulgarian journalist murder suspect detained in Germany

Adjust Comment Print

A suspect in the rape and killing of a Bulgarian television journalist whose work highlighted corruption in the East European country has been arrested in Germany, officials said Wednesday.

"We can say there is a suspect detained", the source said, declining to elaborate.

"The Romanian citizen will be released", he said.

Marinova was a presenter for a current affairs show called Detector on Ruse-based private television channel TVN, one of the most popular channels in northeastern Bulgaria.

Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said Marinova, 30, had suffered blows to the head and was suffocated in the fatal attack, adding that her "mobile phone, vehicle keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing".

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov (center) speaks next to chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov (right) and Interior Minister Mladen Marinov in Sofia on October 10.

Preliminary investigations indicated the cause of death to be blows to the head and suffocation.

Police said she was beaten, raped and strangled.

"The country has a bad image with regard to press freedom, but it's possible that there is no link to this case", said Svetoslav Terziev, opposition media analyst and journalism teacher.

Indicating his own doubt that she was killed in relation to her work, he said that "all the evidence points towards an absurd, terrible coincidence", adding that "it looks like it is not a professional murder, which gives me a bit of comfort".

Caruana Galizia was killed in a vehicle bombing in October in Malta and Jan Kuciak was murdered in Slovakia in February.

Authorities are now saying, however, that the motive was likely sexual assault, not an attack on a journalist, although the investigation is ongoing.

Her body was found Saturday in a park in the northern city of Ruse. He said there was no information that she had been threatened.

The man has been charged in his absence with rape and murder, Tsatsarov said.

The CPJ said it was "shocked by the barbaric murder".

The organization added in its statement that Marinova's last broadcast was an interview with Romanian journalist Attila Biro and a Bulgarian colleague, Dimitar Stoyanov, who were looking into allegations of fraud involving European Union funds.

The Balkan nation joined the European Union in 2007 and was ranked 71st on Transparency International's corruption list a year ago.

Frans Timmermans, vice president of the EU's executive branch, tweeted: "Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption".

Local people held a candlelight vigil overnight and many left flowers to commemorate Marinova, who left a seven-year-old daughter.