December 18, 2019 / 7:03 PM / a month ago

Slovak ex-top prosecutor charged as probes into reporter's murder widen

FILE PHOTO: A woman kneels by a memorial on the first anniversary of the murder of the investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova in Bratislava, Slovakia, February 21, 2019. REUTERS/David W. Cerny

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia’s former chief prosecutor has been charged with abuse of power for hiding recordings from a secret service operation, Slovak police and media said on Wednesday, the latest fall-out from an investigation into a journalist’s murder in 2018.

The killing of 27-year-old investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and is fiancee triggered mass protests and the resignation of a prime minister, buffeting the central European country’s political and justice system.

The police inquiry has led to several other resignations of senior officials because of their past contact with prominent businessman Marian Kocner, who was a subject of Kuciak’s reporting and has been charged with ordering his murder.

The trial opens on Thursday with Kocner and three others charged over the killing. Kocner has denied having anything to do with Kuciak’s killing. A few months before, Kuciak told police that Kocner had threatened to start collecting information on him and his family. Police pressed no charges.

Kocner and two other have pleaded not guilty while one of the defendants has confessed, according to Slovak public television RTVS.

Separately, police brought charges on Wednesday against former general prosecutor Dobroslav Trnka for alleged abuse of power in dealings with Kochner, news websites Aktuality.sk and Dennikn.sk both reported.

A police statement, in which the suspect was identified only as D.T., said he was believed to have received and kept a recording from a decade-old secret service operation that looked into illicit links between politicians and businessmen, with the aim of gaining financially from the recorded material.

The statement said that the suspect received the recording from another man identified as M.K. - which Slovak media said referred to Kocner. Trnka, who has not been detained, declined to comment for Dennikn.sk when contacted.

Prosecutors said in August they had extracted tens of thousands of messages from Kocner’s phone containing communication with “representatives of state bodies and the justice system”.

Reporting by Jason Hovet; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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