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Suspect held in Germany over brutal killing of Bulgarian journalist

Bulgaria’s top prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov has confirmed that a suspect has been arrested in Germany in connection with the rape and killing of journalist Viktoria Marinova. Mr Tsatsarov said the arrested man had been named as Severin Krasimirov, a Bulgarian citizen.

The interior minister, Mladen Marinov, added that investigators had found DNA evidence on the clothes and body of Ms Marinova, who was raped and killed on October 6 in the northern Bulgarian city of Ruse.

“There is physical evidence to link Krasimirov to the murder,” Mr Marinov said on October 10. He added that Mr Krasimirov, a resident of Ruse, had a criminal record for scrap metal theft.

The body of Ms Marinova, who reported on an investigation into alleged corruption involving EU funds, was found in a Ruse park early on October 6. Ruse regional prosecutor Georgy Georgiev said: “Her death was caused by blows to the head and suffocation, and her mobile phone, car keys, glasses and some of her clothing were missing.”

Ms Marinova was a board member of the Ruse-based TV station TVN – one of the most popular TV channels in northeastern Bulgaria – and is the second journalist to have been murdered in emerging Europe this year. A young Slovak investigative journalist, Ján Kuciak, was shot dead in February with his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.

She presented a current affairs talk programme called “Detector” for Ruse’s small private TVN television. The programme had recently been relaunched.

The first episode of the show on 30 September broadcast interviews with investigative journalists Dimitar Stoyanov from the Bivol.bg website and Attila Biro from the Romanian Rise Project, about an investigation into alleged fraud involving EU funds linked to big businessmen and politicians.

The European Commission has urged the Bulgarian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for the killing.

Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said he was shocked by the  murder.

“Again, a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption. Those responsible should be brought to justice immediately by the Bulgarian authorities,” he said.