13 Slovak judges detained for dealings with businessman

National & World News

FILE – In this Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 file photo, Marian Kocner the suspected mastermind in the slaying of an investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, is escorted by armed police officers from a courtroom after a trial session in Pezinok, Slovakia. On Wednesday March 11, 2020, Slovak police said they detained 13 judges and five other people who are linked to the main suspect in the case of slain investigative reporter and his fiancee. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Thirteen judges in Slovakia and five other people linked to the main suspect in the case of a slain investigative journalist have been detained and charged with corruption and obstruction of justice, Slovak police said Wednesday.

Police did not provide the identities of those detained but the move was announced by a special police unit investigating contacts between several judges and businessman Marian Kocner.

Kocner and three other defendants are currently on trial in the slayings of reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova. They face potential prison sentences of 25 years to life if convicted of murder. Kocner is considered the mastermind behind the killings.

Kocner was charged Wednesday with bribing the judges, his lawyer Marek Para told local media.

Police and prosecutors declined to provide more details.

The 2018 killings of Kuciak and Kusnirova triggered major street protests and a political crisis that led to the government’s collapse.

The investigation disclosed that Kocner created a wide network of contacts with politicians, judges and prosecutors, who allegedly helped him with his business dealings.

Kocner was sentenced to 19 years in prison in February in a separate case over forgery and securities crimes.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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