The murder of journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusirova, just over a year ago stunned Slovakia. Sunday’s presidential election will show if the shock was sharp enough to shake up a political scene long criticized for corruption and cronyism.
Although the shooter, driver and other middlemen are all in jail, it took until today, March 14—two days before the election—for police to formally charge a suspect for ordering the February 2018 killing of Kuciak and Kusirova: Marian Kocner, a businessman with links to the ruling Smer party. The investigative journalist had been probing Kocner’s businesses.
The murder sparked protests that continue to this day, jolting the government, which is led by the nominally center-left Smer. Robert Fico, the erstwhile prime minister and head of Smer, who once blasted journalists as “dirty prostitutes,” was forced to step down in order to stem the crisis amid speculation that the murder was ordered by Italian mafia groups whose tentacles reached as far as his office. Kocner used to live next door to Fico in Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital.