A former soldier has been sentenced to 23 years in prison in Slovakia for the alleged contract killings of an investigative journalist and his fiancee.
A court in the town of Pezinok, north of the capital Bratislava, convicted Miroslav Marcek (pictured) over the fatal shootings in February 2018 of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kusnirova, both aged 27.
A ruling is also pending for three other defendants in the case, including the businessman accused of masterminding the killings.
All three have pleaded not guilty to murder, and face prison sentences of 25 years to life if convicted.
A fifth suspect made an agreement to co-operate with prosecutors in exchange for a lesser sentence and received a 15-year prison term on 30 December.
The suspected mastermind, Marian Kocner, had allegedly threatened the journalist following publication of a story about his business dealings.
Prosecutors claimed he paid Marcek a total of €70,000 (£61,500) for the killing.
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 21 February 2018.
The killings prompted major street protests and a political crisis that led to the previous government’s collapse.
Kuciak had also been investigating possible government corruption.
Picture: Reuters/Radovan Stoklasa