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So Far, No Evidence Linking Bulgarian Journalist's Killing To Her Work, Interior Minister Says

Updated

Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova gives her last report, which aired on October 1.

Bulgaria's top police official has said there is no evidence so far to suggest that the killing of a television reporter whose slaying has stunned the country was linked to her work.

"It is about rape and murder," said Interior Minister Mladen Marinov, who traveled to the northern city of Ruse on October 8 to oversee the investigation into the killing of Viktoria Marinova.

Vigils were planned for Marinova, 30, in Sofia and other Bulgarian cities and towns later in the day.

Her body was found on October 6 in a park near the Danube River in Ruse.

Police said she had been brutally beaten, raped, and strangled, and that their inquiry was looking into both her personal and professional life.

Her death immediately drew international condemnation and calls for a full and thorough investigation.

The European Commission urged Bulgaria to conduct a rapid investigation into the killing.

"There is no democracy without a free press.... We expect a swift and thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice," the European Commission, the European Union's executive, said in a tweet on October 8.

"Shocked by the horrendous murder of Victoria Marinova. Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption," European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmerman tweeted on October 7.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was imperative "that there's a fast investigation and that this horrible event will be illuminated as comprehensively as possible."

In the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index this year, Bulgaria ranked 111th out of 180 countries -- the lowest of all 28 EU members.

A veteran TV reporter, Marinova for many years hosted a lifestyle show and also served as a member of the management team of the private television station TVN.

Several months ago, she became the host of an investigative program called Detector. The most recent show featured interviews about alleged corruption involving private companies misspending European Union funding.

Marinova is at least the third journalist to have suffered a violent death in the European Union over the past 12 months.

"First Malta, then Slovakia, now Bulgaria. It is unacceptable that in Europe journalists are getting killed again," said Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament, referring to the killings of the two other journalists in those EU countries.

Giegold called on the European legislature to quickly send a delegation to Bulgaria to help probe the crime.

The Paris-based media watchdog Reporters Without Borders said other TVN journalists should get police protection during the investigation.

With reporting by Reuters and AP
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