Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova killed in Ruse

A candlelight vigil in Marinova's memory is organised for Monday evening in Sofia

A candlelight vigil in Marinova's memory is organised for Monday evening in Sofia

Bulgarian television reporter Viktoria Marinova has become the third journalist to be murdered in the European Union in the past year and the fourth since the start of 2017.

Leading EU politicians and media activists urged Bulgaria on October 8 to conduct a fast investigation into the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova, as mourners planned vigils across the Balkan country.

Bivol.bg owner Assen Yordanov said he couldn't directly link Marinova's slaying to her work, but noted her September 30 show tackled "our very sensitive investigation into the misuse of European Union funds".

Her final show was a program about Attila Biro, an investigative journalist with the Rise Project Romania, and a colleague from Bulgarian investigative site Bivol.bg.

She was found by a passer-by on Saturday afternoon and her body was identified by her family that evening, the Bulgarian authorities reported. She'd been beaten with such force that she was unrecognizable, according to the Federation of European Journalists.

"Shocked by horrific murder of investigative journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria", tweeted Harlem Desir, the media freedom representative for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that the country's best investigators have been put on the case.

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov talking to reporters claimed that it was a rape and murder case and had nothing to do with her work as there are no evidence and no information that she had received threats. "This is a topic on which no other Bulgarian national media dared to report on", he told The Associated Press.

"It is about rape and murder", Marinov said. "A large amount of DNA had been obtained". Urgently call for a full and thorough investigation.

"With great pain and insurmountable grief, the TVN team is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague Viktoria Marinova and we pray for sympathy to the sorrow of her relatives and colleagues", TVN, the Bulgarian TV broadcaster where she had worked, said in a statement. Those responsible must be held to account'. Two months later, Maltese anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a auto bomb.

"It is unacceptable that in Europe journalists are getting killed again", he said, referring to the killings of two other investigative journalists in those European Union countries.

Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist, was decapitated in August 2017 while conducting an interview on a submarine owned by inventor Peter Madsen, who was later convicted of the crime.

A journalist is killed on average every week around the world, according to figures compiled by RSF.

A Bulgarian television journalist was suffocated and beaten to death, prosecutors say, in a case which has sparked worldwide condemnation.

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