Bulgarian Television Journalist Viktoria Marinova Was Raped and Killed

The body of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova was found in a park on Saturday, making her the third journalist to have been murdered in the European Union in a year, the Guardian reports.
Marinova, 30, had reported on an investigation into corruption of EU funds shortly before she was raped and brutally murdered in the northern town of Ruse on the Danube river, according to Bulgarian authorities.
“Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing,” said Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev.
Marinova was a presenter for a current affairs show called Detector on Ruse-based private television channel TVN, one of the most popular channels in northeastern Bulgaria.
In a segment aired on September 30, Marinova interviewed two Romanian journalists who were investigating several politicians and businessmen for alleged corruption of EU funds. Prior to the TVN interview’s broadcast, the Romanians had been briefly detained by Bulgarian authorities.
According to Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, there is no evidence to suggest that Marinova’s death was motivated by her journalism. “It is about rape and murder,” he said said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Bulgarian authorities to launch a thorough investigation.
“CPJ is shocked by the barbaric murder of journalist Victoria Marinova,” Tom Gibson, CPJ’s European Union representative, said in a statement. “Bulgarian authorities must employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible.”
Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a TVN journalist told Agence-France Presse, “We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats – aimed at her or the television.” The journalist said he and his coworkers feared for their safety.
In October, one of Malta’s best-known journalists, Daphne Caruana Galizia, who had worked on the Panama Papers revelations, was killed after a bomb exploded in a rented car she was using. In February, investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend were shot to death in Slovakia.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Bulgaria ranks 111 out of 180 countries on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, the lowest scoring member of the European Union.
Corruption-plagued EU member Bulgaria found itself under pressure Monday to find the killer of a television journalist whose brutal murder at the weekend has shocked the country and sparked international condemnation.
The body of 30-year-old Viktoria Marinova — who presented a current affairs talk programme called “Detector” for the small private TVN television in the northern town of Ruse — was found on Saturday.
“All leads are being looked at” in the crime investigation including possible links to her professional activity, chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said Monday.
Authorities earlier revealed that Marinova had been killed by blows to the head and from suffocation and has also been raped.
“We are in shock. In no way, under any form, never have we received any threats — aimed at her or the television,” a journalist from Marinova’s own TVN told AFP under condition of anonymity Sunday, adding that he and his colleagues feared for their safety.
Marinova is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe this year after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017.
Bulgaria is regarded as one of the tail-lights in the EU in matters of press freedom, ranking 111th out of a total 180 in this area, according to the NGO, Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption,” the EU Commission’s vice president Frans Timmermans tweeted late Sunday.
“Those responsible should be brought to justice immediately by the Bulgarian authorities.”
‘A warning’?
Condolences poured in on social media for Marinova who leaves behind a small child. A candlelight vigil in her memory will be held on Monday evening in both Ruse and the capital Sofia.
Some observers believe there could be a link between the murder and Marinova’s work.
The first episode of her programme, aired on September 30, featured an investigation into alleged fraud involving EU funds linked to oligarchs and politicians.
She had interviewed the reporters behind the story, investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project.
Bivol.bg owner Asen Yordanov told AFP that “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.”
The crime has sparked international outcry, with the OSCE’s media freedom representative, Harlem Desir, calling for “a full and thorough investigation”.
“Those responsible must be held to account,” he said Sunday.
The Committee to Protect Journalists similarly demanded that Bulgarian authorities “employ all efforts and resources to carry out an exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice those responsible.”
In Bulgaria, however, the national TV networks only dedicated a few minutes of air time to the case.
And even some of Marinova’s fellow journalists were not convinced that she was killed because of her reporting.
“The country has a bad image with regard to press freedom, but it’s possible that there is no link to this case,” said Svetoslav Terziev, opposition media analyst who also teaches journalism.
“She wasn’t a typical investigative journalist. Her new programme doesn’t seem to offer any motive to kill her,” said Tihomir Bezlov, of the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD) in Sofia.
Reporting obstacles
Widespread corruption, shady media ownership and suspected collusion between journalists, politicians, and oligarchs have made objective reporting a constant obstacle course, according to RSF.
According to the Bulgaria-based Association of European Journalists, reporters from small regional and local media are particularly subjected to pressure from local businessmen and politicians and outright threats, often leading to self-censorship.
Violence against women has also been widespread in Bulgaria, with a number of brutal killings of women by their ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands causing an outcry in the media recently.

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South Punjab News : Bulgarian Television Journalist Viktoria Marinova Was Raped and Killed
Bulgarian Television Journalist Viktoria Marinova Was Raped and Killed
“Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing,” said Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev.
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