SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgarian authorities on Wednesday arrested and charged a man in his early 20s in the rape and killing of journalist Viktoria Marinova, a case that sent shock waves through Europe and triggered anxieties about press freedom.
Authorities said the slaying was probably not a targeted attack based on Marinova’s profession, although an investigation is ongoing.
Marinova, 30, was attacked Saturday as she was running in a park in Ruse, a small city in northeastern Bulgaria. Because she hosted a television program that highlighted investigative journalism, the case initially stoked fears about retributions against journalists exposing corruption.
In the past year, two other investigative journalists were killed in European Union states.
Early Wednesday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told reporters that investigators had interviewed her family, colleagues and friends and found that “there is no apparent link to her work.”
The man, whom authorities identified as Severin Krasimirov of Ruse, was born in 1997 and has a criminal record that dates to 2007 and includes charges of theft. According to Bulgarian officials, Krasimirov fled the scene and headed to Germany, where he was apprehended. Initial lab results linked his DNA to samples found at the crime scene, authorities said.
Marinova, a former lifestyle journalist, had recently transitioned into her role as the host of a program called “Detector.” The single episode that aired before her death featured interviews with reporters who had broken investigative stories weeks earlier.
Authorities noted that Krasimirov lived near the crime scene. “We continue to work on all versions,” said Marinov, the interior minister.
Many local commentators were quick to point out that crimes against women are endemic in Bulgaria.
Earlier this year, the government refused to ratify the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe initiative aiming to battle and prevent violence against women, after Bulgaria’s constitutional court ruled that the convention contradicted the country’s constitution.
The convention has been ratified by 33 other European states.
“In this situation, it’s necessary to analyze in depth the problems in Bulgaria connected to violence against women,” said a statement from the Association of European Journalists — Bulgaria.
McAuley reported from Paris.