Suspect held for rape and murder of Bulgarian investigative journalist

Bulgarian police on Tuesday arrested a Romanian citizen with a passport from Moldova for the murder of Bulgarian broadcast journalist Viktoria Marinova who had been reporting on alleged corruption linked to European Union funds, national radio reported.

The body of Viktoria Marinova, 30, above, (Photo credit: TVN Bulgaria/YouTube) was found by a passer-by in a park in the northern city of Ruse near River Danube on Saturday afternoon.

Marinova suffered blows to the head and was raped and strangled, Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said, adding that her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and part of clothes were missing.

Marinova was working as a reporter and TV host in Ruse-based TVN. Her last programme featured two journalists talking about their recent arrests as they were investigating the nexus between businessman and politicians in corruption involving EU funds.

It is not clear if the murder was related to Marinova’s professional work. Investigators are looking into her personal and professional life.

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov denied any connection between Marinova’s murder and her work.

There is no evidence Marinova has been threatened. It is about rape and murder, the minister said.

A reporter from TVN said there were no threats against Marinova or the TV station over the programmes aired.

But Asen Yordanov, who runs an investigative website, bivol.bg, said the brutal way in which Marinov was killed points to an execution-style murder. It is a warning to others who try to emulate her, Yordanov said.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe condemned the “horrific” murder.

The European Federation of Journalists said Marinova’s latest feature tackled state corruption.

Bulgaria ranks lowest in Press Freedom Index in EU, according to Reporters without Borders.

Investigative journalists in the country are often threatened and assaulted and their property damaged, according to the group.

Marinova is the third high-profile journalist to be killed in the European Union in the past year.

In October last year, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb near her home.

In February this year, Slovakian journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in Kuciak’s home.

Galizia and Kuciak were known for their work exposing corruption.

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