Slovak police raid houses owned by alleged Italian mafia

A policeman walks outside of a house linked to an Italian businessman who did business with at least two officials close to Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico, in Trebisov, Slovakia, Thursday, March 1, 2018. Police are conducting raids in eastern Slovakia in houses linked to the members of Italian mafia in the country that an investigative journalist was writing about before he was shot dead last week. (Roman Hanc/TASR via AP)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Slovak police conducted raids Thursday on houses linked to alleged members of the Italian mafia in connection with the recent slaying of an investigative journalist.

Slovakia's national police chief Tibor Gaspar told reporters in the eastern city of Kosice that seven persons have been detained, all male and aged between 26 and 62. Only their first names were given.

Gaspar says the seven were detained as "suspects" with approval from the state prosecution.

The raids were conducted in the towns of Michalovce and Trebisov.

Slovak media reported that one of those detained was Antonino Vadala, an Italian who did business with at least two officials close to Prime Minister Robert Fico. Those officials — a senior advisor to Fico and the secretary of the country's security council — resigned from their posts in the government office on Wednesday.

The bodies of 27-year-old Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend, Martina Kusnirova, were found Sunday evening 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 syndicate in Slovakia.

Slovakia's Interior Minister said the FBI and Britain's Scotland Yard and other foreign agencies are helping Slovak authorities investigate the killings.

Robert Kalinak previously said Czech and Italian police forces as well Europol have been co-operating with their Slovak counterparts in the investigation.

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