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article imageProtesters in Slovakia demand new police chief after journalist murder

By AFP     Apr 5, 2018 in World

Tens of thousands of Slovakians rallied across the country on Thursday, demanding a new police chief after protests over the murder of a journalist probing corruption forced the prime minister to step down.

Around 30,000 people turned out in the capital Bratislava alone, according to the leading SME daily, with protesters touting banners reading "Shame on you" and "Gaspar, resign!", referring to police chief Tibor Gaspar.

Thousands also gathered in over a dozen other cities and towns to rally for Gaspar's departure, something that Interior Minister Tomas Drucker said he was considering.

President Andrej Kiska, a liberal who is at odds with the populist left-wing government, also called for Gaspar to leave, telling journalists earlier on Thursday that he "expects" the police chief "will be ousted in the coming days."

Kiska told Slovakia's TASR news agency that Gaspar's departure was a key part of "rebuilding people's trust in the police."

The EU member state of 5.4 million was plunged into political crisis after the February killing of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, who had been probing alleged ties between top politicians and the Italian mafia.

The killing and Kuciak's article, published after he and his fiancee were found shot dead, raised fresh concern about media freedom and corruption and sparked a wave of protests that forced the government to resign.

The new government appointed last month retains most of the same people from the previous administration of Robert Fico.

Analysts believe Fico will continue to call the shots from behind the scenes as he remains chairman of the governing Smer-SD party.

Bratislava-based political analyst Pavol Babos said the string of personnel changes are merely cosmetic.

"With regard to the overall state of the country, it is hard to expect significant changes as most of the areas will de facto still be governed by the same people in the same coalition," Babos told AFP.

Mass protests in late March had called for a snap election in a sign that the changes in government were not enough to quell public outrage triggered by the murder.

Police believe that Kuciak's death was "most likely" related to his investigation.

The scandal caused the government to resign last month but there are fears that the killers may evad...
The scandal caused the government to resign last month but there are fears that the killers may evade justice
JOE KLAMAR, AFP

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a prosecutor told journalists in late March that the circumstances of the double homicide "suggest that it was a contract killing."

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