Slovakians rally after a journalist was murdered

In his investigation, Kuciak alleged that Italian businessmen with ties to the feared Calabrian organised crime syndicate 'Ndrangheta had settled in eastern Slovakia, and spent years embezzling European Union funds for this relatively poor region on the border with Ukraine.

Seven men were detained as suspects in the raids in the eastern towns of Michalovce and Trebisov, national police chief Tibor Gaspar said.

The bodies of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirova, were found Sunday in their house. They both rejected any connection with the murders.

He added the "corruption" of local officials plays a big role in the 'ndrangheta's activities overseas. 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.

The FBI, Britain's Scotland Yard, Europol and police forces from Italy and the Czech Republic are helping Slovak police with the investigation.

Thousands marched in Bratislava and other Slovak cities on Friday, demanding swift action in response to a killing that has shocked the country and shaken its government.

Other commemorative gatherings are planned in two dozen cities overseas, including London, Paris and Brussels.

He has also regularly attacked journalists in the past, calling them "dirty, anti-Slovak whores" and "slimy snakes".

Press freedom in Slovakia hasn't declined as much as in its neighbors Hungary or Poland, but tensions have risen between the government and news outlets after a spate of reports on opaque procurement and tax-fraud cases linked to politicians.

Mr Fico is known for his numerous attacks on the media.

Christophe Deloire, the director-general of Reporters Without Borders, on Friday said he asked Fico to "express regret after insulting journalists and commit to avoid weakening investigative journalism".


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