A 21-year-old man suspected of murdering investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova has been returned to Bulgaria. The suspect has claimed he was under the influence of drugs and denied raping the reporter.
The suspected murderer of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova has been extradited from Germany, the Interior Ministry in Sofia said on Wednesday.
“German authorities have handed over … the 21-year-old citizen of Ruse,” the Ministry said.
Ruse, located in northeast Bulgaria, is where the 30-year-old investigative journalist was found in a park after having been raped and beaten prior to being murdered on October 6.
Her suspected murderer is Severin Krasimirov, who admitted partial guilt in the crime when he was arrested in Germany last week. Some of Marinova’s belongings were found in Krasimirov’s home and his DNA was found on her body.
Although Marinova investigated official corruption in a nation that Reporters Without Borders ranked as worse than any other EU member in its annual Press Freedom Index, authorities believe that her murder was likely not connected to her work.
Krasimirov, who fled first to Romania before he was discovered in the northern German city of Stade, said he was “heavily under the influence of alcohol and drugs” at the time of the crime. He admitted to getting into a verbal altercation with Marinova, which prompted him to punch her in the face and push her into some bushes. He has denied robbing, raping and intending to murder her.
Marinova was the third investigative journalist killed in the European Union in less than a year, after Jan Kuciak and his fiancée were murdered in Slovakia, and Daphne Caruana Galizia died in car bomb attack in Malta.