Why this story matters:
In his unfinished article, which he had been working on for 18 months, Ján Kuciak wanted to expose the connections between the ruling party, Smer, and the 'Ndrangheta, a branch of the Italian mafia which he suspected of having links with many powerful politicians in Eastern Slovakia, the poorest region of the country.
Unbeknownst to most Europeans, the 'Ndrangheta's network of drug trafficking and money laundering spreads through most of Western and Central Europe, and often escapes prosecution due to the absence of a comprehensive trans-national system for fighting organized crime.
But Kuciak's investigation into the Calabrian crime syndicate will not be left unfinished.
Reporter Andrej Bán has volunteered to continue the investigation. So far, he has reported on privileged politicians in the region who grow rich by bilking EU funds meant for farmers. Ultimately, most Slovaks have an idea of what Bán and Kuciak's final find will be: that, for years now, the Slovak political elite has been committing serious crimes in perfect impunity.
Details from the story:
- Former Smer MP, Ľubica Rošková, known as "the countess", is among the most influential politicians in Eastern Slovakia. Journalists believe that she has drawn major profits from collaborating with the regional mafia.
- After the death of Ján Kuciak, people took to the streets to protest against the current government. Consequently, both PM Robert Fico and the interior minister, Robert Kaliňák, resigned.
- The new Slovak PM, Peter Pellegrini, is widely considered to be a puppet of Robert Fico.
- In the past, a delegation of EU MPs inquired the former PM about mafia in Eastern Slovakia. His response was: "Mafia in Eastern Europe? This is absurd! There is nothing there."