People hold European and Slovak flags during a silent protest march to pay tribute to murdered Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend Martina Kusnirova on March 2, 2018 in Bratislava, Slovakia. Slovak police on March 1, 2018 detained several Italian businessmen named by murdered journalist Jan Kuciak in an explosive report on alleged high-level corruption linked to the Italian mafia, as his killing sparked fresh demonstrations in the EU state. Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova were found shot dead at their home near Bratislava on February 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ALEX HALADA
Slovak police on Saturday said they had released seven Italian businessmen detained after they were named by murdered journalist Jan Kuciak in an explosive report on alleged high-level political corruption linked to the mafia.
“The investigator has, within the legal timeframe (48 hours) at his disposal, checked the facts necessary to bring charges. After 48 hours, detainees were released,” police said in a statement Saturday.
The seven men were taken into custody on Thursday in police raids in the eastern town of Michalovice.
Slovak media reported that among those held was businessman Antonino Vadala — the owner of several companies — and some of his relatives, alleged by Kuciak to have links to Italy’s notorious ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate and contacts in the Slovak government.
In Italy, prosecutors have suggested that the notorious Calabrian crime syndicate the ‘Ndrangheta may have been behind the killing of Kuciak, 27, and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova who were found shot dead at their home on Sunday.
The murder has raised concerns about media freedom and corruption in Slovakia and sparked mass protests at home and sharp condemnation abroad.
Thousands flocked to candlelit anti-corruption protests and memorials held across Slovakia on Friday.
Organisers estimated that around 25,000 people gathered in the capital Bratislava, while thousands met in a dozen other cities and towns across the EU and NATO country of 5.4 million people.
Thousands of mostly young Slovaks joined anti-graft rallies last year demanding the dismissal of senior government and police officials for alleged foot-dragging on fighting graft.
Kuciak’s fiancee was laid to rest in her wedding gown on Friday, as hundreds of mourners flocked to her funeral in the northern Slovak town of Gregorovce. The couple had been due to wed in May.
Kuciak’s funeral will be held on Saturday in the northern village of Stiavnik, near the Czech border.