The International Press Institute (IPI) today welcomed the sentencing of the gunman who admitted to murdering Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, to 23 years in prison.

Former solider Miroslav Marček plead guilty in court in January, testifying that he shot Kuciak on February 21, 2018 at the home he and Kušnírová shared in Velka Maca.

He said that he then killed Kušnírová – apparently unplanned – after she saw his face, chasing her into the kitchen and shooting her in the head.

Three others remain on trial for the murders, which prompted mass demonstrations in Slovakia: Tomáš Szabó, Marček’s cousin and the alleged getaway driver; Alena Zsuzsová, a suspected middlewoman; and Marian Kočner, a well-known businessman charged with ordering Kuciak’s killing as retaliation for his journalistic work.

A fifth suspect, Zoltán Andruskó, had previously pled guilty for his role in the crime and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in December. Prosecutors say that Andruskó, working on behalf of Zsuzsová and ultimately Kočner, tasked Szabó and Marček with carrying out the murder.

IPI has closely followed the murder investigation, travelling to Slovakia on dozens of occasions to push for justice in the case. IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen attended trial hearings in person in January and February. Travel and courtroom restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently preclude further in-person monitoring.

“IPI welcomes this second conviction in the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kušnírová, as a further sign that the court is serious about preventing impunity in this case,” Griffen said. “It remains clear, however, that full justice will only be achieved with the conviction of all those involved in the murder, and especially those who ultimately ordered it.”

This statement by IPI is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.