21-year-old from Ruse charged with murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova

21-year-old from Ruse charged with murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova

RUSE, Bulgaria-Bulgarian police have detained a Romanian citizen of Ukrainian origin for 24 hours and were checking his alibi as they investigated the rape and murder of TV anchor Viktoria Marinova, whose body was found in a park in her Danube hometown of Ruse.

A Romanian man arrested in Bulgaria on Tuesday in connection with the case was subsequently released without being charged, Bulgarian media reported.

bTV, another Bulgarian broadcaster, claimed that police had found the journalist's mobile phone in the suspect's apartment in the northern town of Ruse.

Marinova worked for a small local TV station called TVN where she presented two investigative programs.

Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said Marinova, 30, had suffered blows to the head and was suffocated in the fatal attack, adding that her "mobile phone, auto keys, glasses and part of her clothes were missing".

The interior minister Mladen Marinov and a spokeswoman for the town's chief prosecutor were scheduled to hold a press conference later Tuesday afternoon.

Preliminary investigations indicated the cause of death to be blows to the head and suffocation. She had been raped, beaten and suffocated.

Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov underlined that "at this stage we can not claim that the murder was related to her [Marinova's] professional work".

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"The shocking news about the murder of Victoria Marinova, an investigative journalist, seemingly linked to her reports on investigations into alleged corruption involving European Union funds, urges us to take immediate action at all levels and with all legal means", Moraes wrote.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta's best-known investigative reporter, was killed when a bomb blew up her vehicle in October past year and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak was shot dead in February.

On her last TV show, on September 30, Marinova introduced two journalists who were investigating suspected corruption involving European Union funds and said her own show Detector, on local television station NTV, would carry out similar investigations. And Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said Sunday that authorities were working together alongside the "best forensics" team to solve the murder.

The minister said investigators had spoken to Marinova's family and friends and added: "There is no apparent link to her work".

He said he had deliberately avoided speculation about the matter "because I thought that what they [in the EU] teach us about justice and police investigations is to not put the blame on anybody until there is clear evidence about who the culprit is, while they [his political opponents] have attacked us so viciously".

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

Marinova leaves behind a young child, who is believed to be seven-years-old.

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