Female investigative journalist and television reporter Viktoria Marinova, who uncovered numerous European Union (EU) funds fraud cases was found brutally raped and murdered in northern Bulgaria on Saturday.
The woman was raped and beaten, and succumbed to head injuries and suffocation, according to local media citing investigators. The victim’s cell phone, car keys, and some clothes were not found with her, but the car reportedly was not stolen.
No official version of the chilling murder has been presented so far as the authorities are trying to find the perpetrators, saying it’s “just a matter of time.” Police have not ruled out any motives for the heinous crime.
Harlem Desir, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representative on freedom of the media, was shocked at Marinova's murder.
“I am shocked by the horrific murder of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria,” said Désir. “I will closely follow the investigation opened by the authorities. I urge them to swiftly identify and bring to justice those responsible and to clearly determine whether this attack was linked to her work.”
“I am deeply saddened by this horrific murder and express my deep condolences to her family at this difficult time,” said Désir.
I will closely follow investigation into horrific murder of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova in #Bulgaria. #noimpunity for killers of Journalists. Need to quickly determine if linked to her work. Full statement: https://t.co/03YNjQ93CL
— OSCE media freedom (@OSCE_RFoM) October 7, 2018
The station she worked for said that she had never received any threats.
She had previously been an anchor of "Podium," which reported on various topics.
Interestingly enough, the day after her body was discovered, OSCE posted a remembrance on the anniversary of the murder of another journalist and claimed that journalists' safety must be a priority.
On the 12th anniversary of the killing of Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, recalled the need to guarantee journalists’ safety, and insisted that the Russian authorities intensify their efforts to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists.
“Politkvoskaya’s murder remains a grim reminder that journalists’ safety needs to be adequately addressed in the Russian Federation,” Désir said. “Despite the progress and assurances that have been made so far by the authorities on this case, I urge Russia to complete a full investigation, to ensure full accountability for those who commissioned the crime.”
Politkovskaya was shot and killed in Moscow on 7 October 2006. In 2003, she received the OSCE Prize for Journalism and Democracy for her courageous professional work in support of “human rights and freedom of the media”.
The Representative noted the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, on 17 July 2018, which ruled that the length of the investigation, along with the “absence of tangible results”, indicated that the investigation has been ineffective.
“Failing to end impunity for crimes committed against journalists is a stain on the media freedom situation in any country, and it must urgently be stamped out,” Désir said.“I reiterate my calls on the Russian authorities to fully investigate all other deaths of journalists and to hold the perpetrators and instigators of these crimes to account.”
In June 2014, sentences were handed down to five individuals for the murder of Polikovskaya, a development which was welcomed by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media (see www.osce.org/fom/119640). However, the investigation was unable to name those who commissioned the crime.
Marinova is the third reporter to be killed in the past 12 months in the EU.
Previously, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who exposed the Maltese prime minister’s offshore dealings in the Panama Papers scandal, died in a car bomb attack last October and in February Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, who was known for his reports on tax fraud and shady dealings of Slovakia’s elite, was shot dead. Police did not rule out that the murder was related “to his investigative activity.”
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