Bulgarian Police Releases Romanian Held in Journalist’s Murder Case

A Romanian citizen detained as part of an investigation into the murder of Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova was released without charge on Tuesday night. 
Vigil commemorating Victoria Marinova in Sofia on Monday. Picture: Vassil Donev, EPA. 

Romanian police confirmed on Tuesday night that a Romanian citizen detained for questioning in the case of TV journalist Viktoria Marinova’s slaying was released by authorities in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian police had announced earlier on Tuesday that the man arrested on Monday night in Ruse was to be released because his alibi was credible.

“Our work is continuing. For the time being, there are no facts and circumstances that we can announce. The Romanian citizen is to be released,” Teodor Atanasov, the head of Ruse regional police, told the media on Tuesday. 

Bulgarian national radio station BNR had reported on Tuesday that a Romanian citizen had been taken into custody in relation to the murder of broadcast journalist Viktoria Marinova, who was found dead on Saturday in the Danube port city of Ruse.

Atanassov told reporters that the man had not been named a suspect in the murder.

Police and prosecutors have been investigating Marinova’s murder, which happened after she hosted a programme about two Romanian and Bulgarian investigative journalists from Rise Romania and who were detained while reporting on an alleged fraud case involving European funds.

Bulgarian prosecutors announced on Monday night that they have started a probe into the alleged embezzlement of EU funds by GP Group, a construction company that the two investigative reporters were researching. Prosecutors said they froze assets worth some 14 million euros.

Marinova was not directly involved in the investigation, but her report on the two journalists touched on a sensitive topic in Bulgaria, which is seen as the most corrupt EU member state.

The Bulgarian government has been under international pressure to investigate the murder. Several international media freedom organisations and the European Commission have called for an impartial probe.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on governments to ensure “accountability” for crimes against journalists such as the “grisly murder and rape” of the Bulgarian TV host, who worked for the small local channel TVN.

Thousands of Bulgarians held commemorations on Monday evening, with the largest crowds turning out in Ruse, where Marinova was brutally assaulted and murdered in broad daylight on Saturday. 

This article has been updated on October 9, 2018, to add statements on the release.

Read more:

Threats to Journalists Expose Bulgarian Media’s Growing Ills

Bulgaria Detains Journalists Probing EU Funds Fraud

TV Host’s Brutal Murder Shakes Bulgaria