Viktoria Marinova: Bulgaria promises probe into alleged EU funds fraud and there has been an arrest in Germany

Three days after the murder of Bulgarian TV journalist Viktoria Marinova the Bulgarian police have arrested and released a suspect. Since Tuesday evening Bulgarian media is reporting on an arrest in Germany. The local police haven't confirmed it yet.

Viktoria Marinova vigil Viktoria Marinova vigil in Sofia, Monday evening (photo: Francesco Martino)

Radio Free Europe describes the new suspect being of Romanian nationality who fled to Germany where his mother lives. Also, Marinova's mobile phone was obviously found in the suspect's apartment in the Bulgarian town of Ruse where Marinova was murdered. reports that a DNA comparison was positive. The Bulgarian government demands his extradition.

The arrests and inquiry follow enormous international pressure on the Bulgarian authorities. It built up after the news broke that Marinova was killed just after she had presented "Detector", her TV show on investigative journalism. She had presented the case of GPGate, an investigation into EU funds fraud in Bulgaria by Dimitar Stoyanov of Bivol and Attila Biro of Rise Romania. This cross-border investigative reporting project is financed by the ECPMF’s IJ4EU fund.

The Interior Ministry has now announced that prosecutors have opened an investigation into the suspected GP Group, the building company alleged to have misused the EU money, and have frozen 14 million euros of its assets. Bivol reported on the case already a month ago, but then nothing happened, Bivol's editor-in-chief, Atanas Tchobanov told the ECPMF.  

"Our team is committed to provide a platform for journalistic research"

"Marinova was amazingly brave when she put the GPGate case in her show", he adds. "No one else in the mainstream media dared to do that." The 30-year old woman was the producer and host at the regional TV channel TNV, and had just started hosting her new show reporting on the corruption going on in Bulgaria, which is the most corrupt country in Europe, according to Transparency International.

Marinova's body was found on Saturday close to the river Danube in the town of Ruse. Police said she was raped, beaten and strangled. It is still unclear if the murder was related to her professional work, but journalist and freedom of expression institutions - knowing the state of press freedom in Bulgaria - worry that the young woman might be the third journalist murdered for revealing corruption, after Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and Ján Kuciak in Slovakia.

Painfully urgent are Marinova's last words spoken on TV at the end of the "Detector" show, published by Bivol today. 

Please find here our first article on the murder.