Victoria Marinova, the 30-year-old TV host and administrative director of the regional TV channel TVN, was found murdered on Saturday near the Danube river bank in the northern Bulgarian town of Ruse, police said on Sunday.
The victim was allegedly raped, beaten and then strangled. She was found by a passer-by on Saturday afternoon and her body was identified by her family that evening, the Bulgarian authorities reported.
It is unclear if the murder was related to Marinova’s professional work. The head of the Ruse prosecution office, Georgi Georgiev, and the vice-director of the local police, Ilian Enchev, told a press conference on Sunday that “all versions” about the murder were on the table.
Most of her personal belongings were missing when she was found in the grass in a less busy part of the Ruse promenade, the authorities, quoted by 24 hours newspaper, said. There are no suspects yet.
“We are working on the case day and night… we hope soon to have more information on the identity of the perpetrator,” Georgiev was quoted as saying.
The Bulgarian website Terminal 3 pointed out in the last aired report, Marinova interviewed with the Romanian investigative journalist Atila Biro from Rise project and his Bulgarian colleague, Dimitar Stoyanov, from Bivol.
The topic was the recent arrest of the two reporters by police near the town of Radomir, south of Sofia, while they were investigating the destruction of documents that allegedly implicated consultancies linked to infrastructure company GP Group in manipulating EU tenders.
The murder was condemned by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Desir, who called for a “full and thorough invetigation”.
Shocked by horrific murder of investigative journalist Victoria Marinova in #Bulgaria. Urgently call for a full and thorough investigation. Those responsible must be held to account. #journosafe #SOFJO
— OSCE media freedom (@OSCE_RFoM) October 7, 2018
The European Federation of Journalists said on Twitter that Marinova’s latest article tackled state corruption:
Investigative journalist Victoria Marinova brutally murdered last night in Bulgaria. Her latest article covered state corruption. She was 30
— EFJ (@EFJEUROPE) October 7, 2018
Marinova is the third journalist killed in the EU in less than a year, after Daphne Caruana Galizia from Malta and Jan Kuciak from Slovakia. A vigil in Marinova’s honour will be organised in the capital, Sofia, on Monday evening.
TVN did not respond to BIRN’s request for comment.