While not formally a suspect, a Romanian man is questioned in connection with the rape and murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, who was reporting on an investigation into alleged corruption involving EU funds.
Police are awaiting corroboration for the alibi of the man in question, and he has not been formally charged.
“We have in custody a person whose alibi we are checking, but for the time being we do not have a concrete suspect. Work with him is continuing,” the head of Danube regional police in Ruse, Marinova’s hometown, Teodor Atanasov, told reporters.
Marinova, 30, was an investigative journalist who was found raped, beaten, and murdered on Saturday in Bulgaria’s northern city of Ruse, near the River Danube on the border with Romania.
“Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing,” said Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev via The Guardian.
Investigative journalists in Bulgaria are often subjected to pressure, from mere warnings to intimidation and physical assaults on themselves or their property
Marinova was a TV presenter on the show Detector, in which she was exploring alleged fraud involving EU funds linked to businessmen and politicians, in an episode featuring two journalists from the Bivol.bg website.
However, Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said there was no evidence to suggest the murder was related to Marinova’s work, saying that the case was about “rape and murder.” He added that there was no information that she had been threatened.
A report by Reporters Without Borders from last month was very critical of Bulgarian authorities when it came to investigating corruption in the country, following the arrest of two Bulgarian journalists.
“The failure of the Bulgarian authorities to take action and the refusal for more than a week of the public prosecutor to investigate allegations of the misuse of EU funds by, among others, the construction firm GP Group and the oligarch Valentin Zlatev, manager of Lukoil Bulgaria, raises questions about the authorities’ willingness to shed light on such rampant corruption.
“Investigative journalists in Bulgaria are often subjected to pressure, from mere warnings to intimidation and physical assaults on themselves or their property. Bulgaria is ranked 111th of 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest position of any European Union member state,” the report read.
The man in question is reported to be a Romanian national of Ukrainian origin who holds a Moldovan passport.
“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” said Bivol.bg owner Asen Yordanov.