A Romanian man was detained for a while on Tuesday in connection with Saturday’s high-profile rape and murder of a Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova. However, after questioning, the unidentified man was released without charges, a Bulgarian official said.
Police said, Marinova’s beaten and strangled body was found in the bushes at the banks of the Danube River in the northern Bulgarian city of Ruse.
Even as investigators worked to establish a motive and apprehend the suspect, competing narratives emerged about whether the victim had been targeted for her journalism or if she was the target of a random crime.
The Bulgarian government has indicated Marinova’s attack was not related to her profession.
According to The New York Times, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said, “It is about rape and murder,”. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also said on Sunday that authorities were working together with the “best forensics” team to solve the case.
Sotir Tsatsarov, the prosecutor general said on Monday that while nothing was being ruled out, it is very unlikely that Marinova’s killing was connected to her work, reports the Times.
Others have suggested that the killing of an anti-corruption shows host in a country which is known for widespread corruption was perhaps more than just a coincidence.
Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission said “Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption”.
Robert Mahoney, the deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists said “In certain countries there is not just enough enforcement of the law and there is rampant impunity, which means that you can even silence a critical journalist or close down an investigation by having killed that journalist.”
Mahoney said that whether Marinova’s killing falls into that category is yet to be confirmed and it is too early to say this.
Marinova also hosted a show on Bulgarian station TVN, called the Detector. The first episode was aired on September. 30 and featured two investigative journalists looking into alleged fraud by politicians and businessmen involving EU funds, reports the BBC. The journalists, Dimitar Stoyanov and Attila Biro, had been detained in September for their work.
Prosecutors opened an investigation into GP Group after her death, the private Bulgarian building company that Biro and Stoyanov spotlighted in their report.
Claude Moraes, chair of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Justice and Home Affairs Committee, has asked Europol to be ready to assist with the investigation into her death.