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Update: Suspect arrested in Germany over killing of Bulgaria journalist

Police in Germany have arrested a man in connection with the rape and brutal murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, Bulgarian officials said Wednesday.

Update: Suspect arrested in Germany over killing of Bulgaria journalist
Tributes have been paid to murdered journalist Viktoria Marinova in Ruse. Photo: DPA

But they said it does not appear, at least at this stage, that the murder was linked to her work as a journalist.

The suspect was picked up late on Tuesday at the request of Bulgarian authorities, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told a news conference.

“We have enough proof linking this person to the scene of the crime,” he said.

German police confirmed a 20-year-old man was arrested in the town of Stade near Hamburg on suspicion of raping, robbing and killing Marinova.

A German police statement said that the process of extraditing the man to Bulgaria had begun and that a request had been filed with the relevant regional court.

Such procedures under the European arrest warrant can take anything from a few days up to several weeks to complete.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov said “at this stage, we do not believe that the murder is linked” to Marinova's work. “But we are continuing to look at all hypotheses.”

“The evidence that we have at this stage leads us to believe it was a spontaneous attack to sexually abuse the victim.”

The body of 30-year-old Marinova, who worked as an investigative reporter and TV presenter for broadcaster TVN, was found on Saturday in parkland near the river Danube in the northern city of Ruse, Bulgarian media reported.

Preliminary investigations showed the cause of death was blows to the head and suffocation.

The murder was described as “exceptionally brutal,” said Marinov. Bulgarian police confirmed she had been raped before she was killed. Marinov said the country's top murder investigators had been sent to Ruse to work on the case.

The attack has shocked the country and drawn international condemnation amid speculation the murder could be linked to Marinova's work as a journalist. The first episode of Marinova's new show Detektor, which aired on September 30th, featured interviews with two investigative journalists working on a corruption investigation into misuse of EU funds.

She is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe in the past 12 months after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017.

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CRIME

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.

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