The members of the independent IJ4EU jury, led by Süddeutsche Zeitung Editor-in-Chief Wolfgang Krach, today called on Bulgarian authorities to open a “comprehensive and transparent” investigation into the murder of journalist Victoria Marinova.
Marinova’s last report for the broadcaster TVN, which aired on September 30, focused on revelations of corruption involving EU funds worth hundreds of millions of Bulgarian leva. The allegations, which have become known as the #GPGate scandal, were first published by the Bulgarian investigative website Bivol.bg and Romania’s RISE Project.
The reporting by Bivol and RISE Project around the misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria and Romania is one of 12 projects selected by the independent jury in June for funding under the #IJ4EU programme, which supports cross-border investigative journalism in the EU. The fund was created by the European Parliament and the European Commission and is managed independently by the International Press Institute (IPI) in coordination with the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom.
Read the full jury statement below.
Statement by the IJ4EU jury on the murder of Victoria Marinova:
The jury members of the Investigative Journalism for Europe (IJ4EU) fund, which aims to support cross-border investigative journalism in the EU, condemn in the strongest possible terms the brutal murder of Victoria Marinova, a reporter with the Bulgarian broadcaster TVN, whose body was found in the northern Bulgarian city of Ruse this past weekend.
Ms. Marinova’s last broadcast, aired on October 1, was an interview with representatives of the news outlets Bivol.bg and RISE Project Romania relating to their #GPGate investigation into the misuse of EU funds in Bulgaria and Romania, a project that we as the independent IJ4EU jury selected to fund given its significant public interest and the experience and seriousness of the journalists involved.
We offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Ms. Marinova and we urge the Bulgarian authorities to open a comprehensive and transparent investigation into her murder. We stress that all possible motives must be thoroughly considered, including the possibility that Ms. Marinova was killed in retaliation for her work on the #GPGate scandal or other stories. All those involved in this horrific crime must be brought to justice.
We also urge officials to cease all forms of harassment and intimidation against Bivol.bg, RISE Project and all other journalists working in Bulgaria to support the free flow of news and information in the public interest. The Bulgarian authorities should focus on investigating the reports of wrongdoing revealed by these courageous journalists and take all necessary steps to protect the safety of all journalists who may be at risk of reprisal for their work.
We stand side-by-side with our colleagues in Bulgaria during this tragic time.
Wolfgang Krach, editor-in-chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany, jury chair)
Cecilia Anesi, co-founder, Investigative Reporting Project Italy (Italy)
David Boardman, dean, Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University (United States)
Pavla Holcová, founder, Czech Centre for Investigative Journalism (Czech Republic)
Christian Jensen, editor-in–chief, Politiken (Denmark)