Bulgarian Investigative Journalist Raped, Killed

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Police investigators walk near a crime scene where TV journalist Viktoria Marinova was murdered in Ruse, Bulgaria on October 7, 2018.

But Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said Monday there was no evidence to suggest the killing was linked to Marinova's work.

Chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov said Monday that investigators were considering "all leads" including possible links to Marinova's professional activity.

The European Commission and the German government have joined a number of global journalism organizations in condemning - and calling for an independent investigation into - the killing of Victoria Marinova, a local TV journalist in the town of Ruse, northern Bulgaria.

At this point, officials are uncertain if Marinova's murder is a result of her investigative journalism, as she had been probing fraud involving European Union funds. "Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption", the EU Commission's vice president Frans Timmermans tweeted late Sunday.

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Prosecutors have said the 30-year-old journalist, who was a presenter and anchor on a local television station, had been raped, beaten and suffocated.

Bulgarian authorities are requesting his extradition, she said.

No link has been established to Marinova's work, but her death has angered many in the Balkans country where people are frustrated with corruption and an inefficient judiciary that has been criticized by the European Commission.

TVN said in a statement: 'With great pain and insurmountable grief the TVN's team is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague Victoria Marinova and we pray for sympathy to the sorrow of her relatives and colleagues'.

However, Marinova only presented the show and did not conduct the interview herself, which in turn provided no new information about the matter, media reports said. They said that investigative journalists in Bulgaria are "often subjected to pressure, from mere warnings to intimidation and physical assaults on themselves or their property".

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The body of Viktoria Marinova, 30, was found in a park in the northern town of Ruse. In the first episode, she interviewed two investigative reporters who were recently arrested while looking into corruption involving the misuse of European Union funds.

However, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov lashed out at global bodies and rights groups which had been quick to assume a political motive behind the murder.

They did not offer any new details about the case after their meeting with the local authorities.

Marinova is the third journalist to have died in the European Union over the past year, and the fourth since the start of 2017.

In a statement from the United Nations cultural agency's headquarters in Paris, Azoulay added: "Attacks on journalists erode the fundamental human right to freedom of expression and its corollaries, press freedom and free access to information". In a summary, the organization noted that "corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs is widespread".

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At the event, an investigative journalist, Neha Dixit spoke about the trolling against the journalists and how the onus "lies on the state to provide a constitutional mechanism to address these kinds of trolling and threats everybody is facing".

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