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Slovak police detain suspects in journalist murder: lawyer

The deaths of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova set off weekly anti-government protests
The deaths of Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova set off weekly anti-government protests AFP/File
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Bratislava (AFP)

Slovak police detained several people suspected of involvement in the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, his family's lawyer said Thursday, months after the reporter's violent death and his exposure of alleged high-level corruption sent shockwaves through the country.

Kuciak, who had been probing ties between politicians and the Italian mafia, was found shot dead with his fiancee at the couple's home near Bratislava in February, plunging the country into crisis and sparking mass demonstrations.

"Today, early in the morning, the suspects of the assassination of Jan Kuciak and (fiancee) Martina Kusnirova were arrested," lawyer and former interior minister Daniel Lipsic wrote on his Facebook page.

The murders and Kuciak's last article, published posthumously, raised fresh concerns about media freedom and corruption in the EU member state of 5.4 million people.

The deaths set off weekly anti-government protests and forced then-premier Robert Fico to resign in March.

His successor and close ally Peter Pellegrini on Thursday wrote on Facebook: "I was pleased to hear the news that the police detained suspects of the murder of two innocent young people."

The elite police unit NAKA said it had detained suspects involved in a "violent crime" but refused to provide details.

The TV station Markiza said eight suspects had been detained in the southern town of Kolarovo, including a local man who had allegedly once worked as a police investigator.

Police said at the time of the murders that they were "most likely" related to Kuciak's investigation of ties between politicians and Italy's notorious 'Ndrangheta mafia.

Regular anti-government protests have continued in the capital Bratislava and other towns.

Another demonstration is planned for Friday.

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