Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová were gunned down in their home two decades back from murders that rocked the nation.
The killings prompted significant road protests hidden because of the 1989 anti-communist Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia with all the consequent political crisis causing the collapse of a coalition government led by populist Robert Fico as well as the dismissal of their federal police chief.
Kuciak was referring to the business deals of Marián Kočner and the alleged connections between the Italian mafia and individuals near the then-prime minister Fico when he had been murdered.
The judges cleared businessman Kočner, also yet another co-defendant, Alena Zsuzsová, of participation in the killings.
A third suspect, Tomáš Szabó, who had been accused of being in the murder scene and driving the getaway vehicle, was detained and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role.
The prosecution might still appeal.
Talking before the courthouse, Kušnírová’s mum Zlatica Kušnírová advised the press of her disbelief in the verdict.
“We hoped that they wouldn’t be published,” she explained. “I don’t understand the court’s conclusion, but it is awful. It appears that justice hasn’t yet started to predominate in Slovakia.”
She added that she and her family members would continue to fight the decision from the nation’s Supreme Court.
Jozef Kuciak, the father of the murdered journalist, said that he expected that the court could take into consideration new evidence filed by the prosecution.
“All that was left was to hope that the facts would finally prevail,” he explained.
The country prosecution had asked 25-year prison conditions for all three defendants.
Others have been sentenced for their roles in the assassinations, such as former soldier Miroslav Marček that pled guilty to committing the murders.
Kočner was found guilty in February 2020 at a fraud case of exceeding 69 million worth of promissory notes sentenced to 19 years. He’s appealing against the sentence.
An acquittal is proof [sic] of a massive collapse of the research bodies and the judiciary.”
He added: “We anticipated #Slovakia to set a positive case concerning the prosecution and condemnation of crimes against journalists. Rather, we stay in a position of impunity. Who arranged the killing of #jankuciak? Why was he murdered? We ought to have a very clear answer.”
Slovakian president Zuzana Čaputová explained the verdict”stunned her” at a Facebook article on Thursday. She added: “I admire it, but I hope that justice-seeking isn’t done and will last at the Supreme Court.
“Thinking of the parents of both Ján and Martina and wish them a great deal of power in this challenging moment. They all deserve to see being held liable for those who arranged and mediated the murder of the kids.”
I can only imagine what it must imply to them which the murder of Ján along with his fiancee Martina hasn’t yet been completely resolved.
“It could be excruciating for all of us if the perpetrators of this offense didn’t get their only sentence.”
Anti-corruption NGO Transparency International said in a statement on Facebook: “Now’s Proposed verdict for Marián Kočner and Alena Zsuzsová is unquestionably a jolt to a sizable section of their public.
“For the Supreme Court and law enforcement agencies, it has to be a priority to ensure this situation doesn’t grow to be the final nail in the coffin of public confidence injustice and justice in Slovakia!”
Discovering the verdict from further afield, Czech MEP Tomáš Zdechovský commented on Twitter: “I can not think that this is not fiction in any way. The mafia that dominated Slovak politics appeared to be gradually but surely becoming away. Now’s conclusion in the case of #Kočner nevertheless, showed that regrettably, he has fingers.”