Slovak police release Italian suspects in journalist's death

In the capital of Bratislava, President Andrej Kiska asked a crowd estimated at 20,000 people to observe a minute of silence for the two, whose bodies were found Sunday in their house in Velka Maca, east of Bratislava.

Marches were held in 25 towns and cities across the country and overseas, including in London, Paris and Brussels.

The scandal has engulfed Robert Fico, the populist prime minister and head of the ruling Smer party, who has been criticised despite a brazen public offer of €1 million for information in relation to the murder.

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

Mr Kuciak was looking into suspected Mafia links among Italian businessmen in eastern Slovakia when he was gunned down.

The men were arrested on Thursday when police raided homes allegedly linked to members of an Italian crime syndicate.

An Italian former anti-mafia prosecutor has said Italian prosecutors warned Slovak authorities of "dangerous" infiltration into the country by a powerful Italian organised crime syndicate, the 'Ndrangheta.

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

Mr Roberti said the 'Ndrangheta, based in southern Italy, might have killed the journalist and his fiancée because "there was no other way to silence him".

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

The FBI, Scotland Yard and Europol are helping Slovak police with the investigation.

  • Fernando Stephens