Italy: Slovakia was told about mafia syndicate's expansion - InfoNews

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Italy: Slovakia was told about mafia syndicate's expansion

Candles and flowers lay by the entrance to offices of news website Aktuality.sk, the employer of the murdered investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, in Bratislava, Slovakia, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. Slovakia's top police officer Tibor Gaspar said the investigative reporter has been shot dead in his home in Velka Maca together with his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova. (Michal Smrcok/News and Media Holding via AP)
March 02, 2018 - 7:29 AM

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Italian prosecutors had warned Slovak authorities about "dangerous" infiltration by a powerful Italian organized crime syndicate even before a Slovak investigative journalist was slain, a top anti-Mafia fighter said Friday.

Franco Roberti, recently retired as Italy's national anti-Mafia prosecutor, said on Italian radio: "We warned authorities in Bratislava, but unfortunately they didn't heed us" about the 'ndrangheta syndicate's expansion into Slovakia.

On Thursday, Slovak police raided houses linked to the alleged members of the syndicate in connection with the slaying of an investigative journalist and his girlfriend.

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

The bodies of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirova, were found Sunday in their house in Velka Maca, east of the capital, Bratislava. They had both been shot. Kuciak's last, unfinished story was about the activities of the Italian 'ndrangheta in Slovakia.

Roberti said the 'ndrangheta might have killed Kuciak because "there was no other way to silence" him.

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

One of those detained Thursday was Antonino Vadala, an Italian who did business with at least two officials close to Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico. Those two officials resigned Wednesday.

The FBI and Britain's Scotland Yard, along with the Czech and Italian police and Europol, are helping Slovak authorities investigate the killings.

Some 25 marches were planned Friday in Slovakia to honour the slain couple, including one in the capital, Bratislava, at which President Andrej Kiska will attend.

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

Also Friday, the secretary general of Reporters Without Borders called on Fico to apologize for insulting journalists. Christophe Deloire deplored what he called the "appalling climate for journalists" created by government leaders in Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Fico is known for his numerous attacks on the media.

Meeting Fico in Bratislava, Deloire said he took note of the government efforts to investigate the killings.

"(But) we nonetheless think you should express regret and apologize for having insulted journalists on several occasions," Deloire said.

___

Frances D'Emilio contributed from Rome.

News from © The Associated Press, 2018
The Associated Press

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