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Defendants acquitted in slayings of Slovak reporter

A panel of judges in Slovakia has acquitted a businessman accused of masterminding the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.

Judge Ruzena Sabova at the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok announced the verdict on Thursday.

The judges cleared the businessman, Marian Kocner, and one co-defendant of murder in the killings of journalist Jan Kuciak and fiancee Martina Kusnirova, both 27.

A third defendant was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the slayings. The prosecution can still appeal.

Kuciak was shot in the chest and Kusnirova was shot in the head at their home in the town of Velka Maca, east of Bratislava, on Feb. 21, 2018.

Kuciak had been writing about alleged ties between the Italian mafia and people close to the then-prime minister when he was killed.

Alena Zsuzsova, his alleged accomplice were both acquitted. on Thursday two defendants of murder charges the slayings of an investigative journalist and his fiancée, a crime that shocked the country and led a government to fall.

The state prosecution has requested 25-year prison terms for three defendants, one of them a businessman accused of ordering the killings and two his accomplices.

They all pleaded not guilty to murdering journalist Jan Kuciak, and fiancee Martina Kusnirova, both aged 27.

Judge Ruzena Sabova at the Specialized Criminal Court in Pezinok, which handles Slovakia’s most serious cases, announced the verdict on Thursday.