Slovak police confiscate phone of slain journalist’s colleague

EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

People hold banners of re-painted portraits of Prime Minister Robert Fico (C) and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak (R) as they participate in a rally called 'Let's stand for decency in Slovakia' in the Slovak Bratislava, March 16 2018.

Slovak police confiscate phone of slain journalist’s colleague


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Nearly three months after Slovak investigative journalist, Jan Kuciak, was gunned down with his girlfriend while he was working on a report about Italia mafia links with the Slovak government, the police have confiscated the phone of his Czech colleague and collaborator, Pavla Hoklova.

Since Kuciak’s brutal assassination on February 25,  Hoklova has come forward to collaborate with Slovak investigators, as she was one of the last people to talk on the phone with Kuciak before he and his fiancée were assassinated in their home in the outskirts of Bratislava.

As the scandal has unfolded, however, the Slovak police appear excessively heavy-handed has come to light. Hoklova had reportedly offered her phone voluntarily but was then told on May 16 by investigators that she must turn over records of her phone conversations with Kuciak in February, as well as access to her emails and phone conversations since January 2016.

Hoklova was told she faced the threat of a €1,650 fine if she refused to collaborate and was subject to an eight-hour interrogation, according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

The spokeswoman from Bratislava’s prosecutor’s office, Jana Tökölyová, has confirmed Hoklova’s account of the incident to Slovak news website Aktuality

The OCCRP believes Hoklova’s phone could contain the names of individuals with information regarding other high-profile crimes as well as sensitive material that could be linked to Kuciak’s investigations.

Political suspicions remain high about how the motive behind Kuciak’s murder despite the fall of the government of former Prime Minister Roberto Fico amid mass protests immediately after the killing. Fico remains politically relevant as he was replaced by Peter Pellegrini. a senior member of his the same Smer party that has dominated Slovak politics for more than a decade.

Several Slovak press associations have repeatedly condemned the heavy-handed tactics that both law enforcement and government officials have employed during the ongoing investigation. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Slovak authorities to respect the confidentiality of journalistic sources.

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