Slovakia journalist murder: Seven suspects released by police

President Andrej Kiska led the protesters, said to number between 10,000 and 20,000, in a minute's silence.

Jan Kuciak, who was writing an article on corruption allegations, and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead at their home last Sunday. Mr Kuciak was working on a story revealing the influence of the Italian mafia in Slovakia and its alleged ties to people close to the Prime Minister, Robert Fico.

On Friday, thousands of protesters braved icy weather to stage vigils across the country and overseas, including in London, Paris and Brussels.

In Bratislava, marchers carried pictures of the dead couple along with a banner reading: "An attack on journalists is an attack on all of us".

The murder of Kuciak, whose reporting focused primarily on links between businessmen and Slovak politicians, was the first of a journalist in the country.

The seven men were taken into custody on Thursday in police raids in the eastern town of Michalovice.

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Some moved on to the government office to call on prime minister Robert Fico's administration to resign.

Earlier Friday, a top anti-Mafia fighter said Italian prosecutors had warned Slovak authorities about "dangerous" infiltration by a powerful Italian organised crime syndicate even before Kuciak was slain.

Franco Roberti told Italian radio: "We warned authorities in Bratislava, but unfortunately they didn't heed us".

Seven men were detained in the towns of Michalovce and Trebisov - but all seven have since been released.

He also said "corruption" of local officials played a major role in the 'Ndrangheta's operations overseas.

The FBI, Britain's Scotland Yard and Europol are helping with Slovak police with the investigation. It comes just months after the October 2017 assassination of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia who had denounced corruption in Malta.

  • Joey Payne