A former soldier confessed on Monday that he was hired to kill Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, whose murder in 2018 sparked large-scale protests that brought down the country’s government.
Miroslav Marček, 37, pleaded guilty to killing Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová and said his cousin, who appeared in court alongside him, had approached him with the job of assassinating the reporter.
Kuciak and Kušnírová were shot dead in their house outside Bratislava in February 2018. At the time, the reporter had been investigating how the Italian mafia was infiltrating Slovakia.
Marček told the court that he did not know who the pair were before he killed them, according to Reuters.
“I want to apologize to those affected for the harm that we have caused. Nothing can make up for that, there is no satisfactory apology. Seeing them on television, seeing their pain forced me to talk,” he said.
Two of the four defendants on trial Monday — including businessman Marian Kočner, who stands accused of ordering the killing — pleaded not guilty to involvement in the murder. Marček’s cousin, Tomáš Szabó, did not enter a plea. Kočner confessed to a lesser offense involving illegally owned ammunition found at his house.
Kuciak had written about Kočner, his business practices and his ties to the Smer party of then Prime Minister Robert Fico before he was murdered. Fico and his cabinet resigned in March 2018 amid nationwide protests.