Bulgaria: Journalist Viktoria Marinova Found Raped and Murdered

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Her mobile phone, vehicle keys, glasses and items of clothing were missing.

"Whatever results the investigation (into Marinova's death) shows, people won't believe them", she said.

Marinova was a host of a Detector show on Bulgaria-based television channel TVN. Previously, she was best known for presenting a regional lifestyle show and was not a household name nationally.

European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmerman said he was "shocked by the horrendous murder". And in February, Jan Kuciak, a Slovakian journalist who also reported on government corruption, was shot and killed along with his fiancee, Martina Kusnirova.

Bulgaria's Interior Minister Mladen Mladenov confirmed that Marinova was raped before she was killed, describing her death as "exceptionally brutal".

This image grab taken from TVN television on October 7, 2018, shows Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova at an undisclosed location in Bulgaria. Initial lab results linked his DNA to samples found at the crime scene, authorities said.

According to The Guardian, Marinova was widely known for hosting a TV show that broadcast interviews with reporters from the Bivol website on alleged fraud involving European Union funds linked to businessmen and politicians.

A Romanian man arrested over Ms Marinova's murder on Tuesday has been released without charge, police said.

"Her mobile phone, vehicle keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing", Georgiev said, adding that prosecutors were probing all leads - both personal and linked to Marinova's job.

Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said: 'We do not exclude that it was a random attack, we do not exclude that it was a premeditated attempt on her life'.

"It's risky to be a journalist in Bulgaria and physical assault is just one of the threats", says Silvia Velikova, a senior journalist from Bulgarian National Radio who covers the judiciary and politics.

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"Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, vehicle keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing", Georgi Georgiev, Ruse's regional prosecutor, told reporters.

In October 2017, Daphne Caruana Galiza, a Maltese journalist known for exposing high level corruption, was murdered by a bomb placed on her vehicle.

Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boyko Borissov stated that the investigation has a lot of evidence and apprehending the criminal is just a matter of time.

A journalist from TVN told AFP they are "in shock".

Her death shocked the citizens of Bulgaria, prompting a response from the European Union reform group Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

RSF called for other journalists at the station to have police protection while the investigation takes place. Those responsible must be held to account'.

In September 2018, the Committee Against Assault on Journalists (CAAJ) in New Delhi organised National Convention Against Assault on Journalists where notable Indian journalist weighed in on difficulties faced by journalists during the current BJP regime under PM Modi.

"It is about rape and murder", he said.

Prosecutors said she had been raped and beaten with such force that her face was unrecognisable.

Her death comes after Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a vehicle bomb in Malta in October 2017, and reporter Ján Kuciak was shot dead at his home in Slovakia in February this year.

One of the reporters involved in the investigation, Maria Dimitrova, received threatening messages by SMS and Facebook.

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