Germany arrests suspect for rape and murder of Bulgarian journalist

German police have arrested a 20-year-old suspect in connection with the murder and rape of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova, above (Photo: TVN Ruse/Handout) in a park near her country’s border with Romania on Saturday.

Severin K, a Bulgarian citizen with criminal record, was caught during a raid at the home of his relatives in the northern city of Stade following a tip-off from Bulgarian authorities.

German prosecutors have filed a request with the relevant regional court for the suspect’s extradition to Bulgaria. Under the European arrest warrant, it may take days or even weeks to complete the procedures.

The suspect first fled to Romania by crossing a bridge, Bulgarian state prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said.

Bulgarian police found Marinova’s stolen mobile phone in the suspect’s home. His DNA was also found on her body.

The suspect has been charged with rape and premeditated murder, Tsatsarov said.

Marinova worked as a host on a Ruse-based television channel TVN. The station on Wednesday said the suspect and Marinova had not known each other.

The first and the last episode of Marinova’s new show Detektor on September 30 featured interviews with two investigative journalists from Romania and Bulgaria who had to face arrests while researching fraud involving EU funds in Bulgaria.

Marinova’s divorced husband, Svilen Maksimov, disputed reports which said she was an investigative journalist. According to him, she was the executive and presenter of news features at TVN.

Tsatsarov said one cannot link her work with the murder. At this stage, the case looks like a spontaneous attack by the suspect to sexually abuse the victim, he said.

Prime Minister Boyko Borisov condemned EU pressure on his country to resolve the murder and media’s quick comparison of the case with other incidents in Malta and Slovakia.

Marinova’s killing has sparked international outrage and revived debate on the safety of journalists in Europe. Bulgaria is at the very bottom of the World Press Freedom Index.

Marinova is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe in the past 12 months .