A Bulgarian journalist was raped and killed in the border town of Ruse on Danube river. Her body was found in a park on Saturday.
Authorities said that they are now investigating whether the murder of TV reporter Viktoria Marinova was a random crime, or has links to her work. The 30-year-old, who worked for the local television station TVN, has reported on an investigation of an alleged corruption involving European Union funds.
Marinova has interviewed two other Bulgarian journalists, Attila Biro, from the Romanian Rise Project, and Dimitar Stoyanov, from the Bivol.bg website, for the current affairs talk program, Detector.
The two were arrested last month while probing into a case of fraud that involved misuse of EU funds linked to politicians and big businessmen. Biro and Stoyanov were detained by the police while attempting to stop the destruction of documents linked to the alleged scheme.
According to The Guardian, Marinova died from blows to the head and suffocation. Her phone, glasses, car keys, and some of her clothing were also missing.
Interior minister Mladen Marinov said that there was no evidence suggesting the killing was linked to Marinova’s reporting work, and there was no information that she had been threatened.
Some in the media industry think otherwise.
Bivol.bg owner Asen Yordanov said that they have received credible information that its journalists were in danger of assault due to the investigation that appeared on Marinova’s show.
“Viktoria’s death, the brutal manner in which she was killed, is an execution. It was meant to serve as an example, something like a warning,” Yordanov said.
The BBC said that Marinova became the third high-profile journalist to be killed in the EU in the past year, and the fourth since 2017.
Last year, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a powerful car bomb. In a pre-trial hearing, a police inspector said that the bomb was an organic explosive detonated by a mobile phone message.
In August of 2017, Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall was also killed after boarding the homemade submarine of Danish inventor Peter Madsen hoping to interview him. Madsen initially claimed to have let Wall off UC3 Nautilus before it sank. Dismembered parts of Wall’s body, however, were later found, which led to Madsen’s conviction.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Bulgaria is the worst country in the EU when it comes to press freedom. The organization said that investigative journalists in the country are often subjected to pressure that range from simple warnings to physical assaults.