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Slovak police detain Italian suspects named by slain journalist

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Bratislava (AFP)

Slovak police said they detained on Thursday several Italian businessmen named by murdered journalist Jan Kuciak as having mafia connections in an explosive investigative report on alleged high-level corruption.

"I can confirm that these raids and detentions are being carried out in several places," police commander Tibor Gaspar told reporters.

He said those taken into custody during raids in the eastern town of Michalovice were "persons mentioned" by Kuciak in connection with the "Italian track".

Slovak media reported that among those held was businessman Antonino Vadala, the owner of several companies, and several relatives, alleged by Kuciak to have links to Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate and contacts in the Slovak government.

"Physical evidence and individuals are being detained, they will be interrogated," Gaspar said.

An article by Kuciak, which was posthumously published Wednesday by, focused on fraud cases allegedly involving Vadala, and said he was linked to Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico's entourage.

Maria Troskova, a close Fico aide, was forced out after Kuciak alleged she had ties to Vadala, purportedly involved with the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were found shot dead at his home on Sunday, raising concerns about media freedoms and corruption in Slovakia and sparking a wave of international condemnation.

A protest in the capital Bratislava called by a conservative opposition party drew around 1,000 people Wednesday night.

The march was the first of several planned to honour Kuciak and protest against graft in the small EU state. Other anti-corruption protests are being planned across Slovakia and in Prague, London and The Hague for Friday.

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