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A Bulgarian journalist who reported on an investigation into alleged corruption, involving European Union (EU) funds, has been murdered in the Danube town of Ruse, authorities said on Sunday, in a case that has shocked fellow journalists and sparked worldwide condemnation.

Authorities discovered the body of Viktoria Marinova (30) on Saturday in the town of Ruse near the Romanian border. They are also investigating whether her death is linked to her work.

Marinova presented a current affairs talk programme called Detector for TVN.

"Shocked by horrific murder of investigative journalists Victoria Marinova in #Bulgaria", read a tweet from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. That program had only featured one episode before her death, and it had merely broadcast interviews with other reporters who discussed their own investigations, stories that had already broken weeks before. "Those responsible should be brought to justice immediately by the Bulgarian authorities", he said.

The two men were briefly detained September 13 south of Sofia, the capital, as they investigated a tip that documents connected to suspected fraud involving European Union funds were being shredded and destroyed.

A man has been arrested in Germany and charged with the rape and murder of a Bulgarian journalist who reported on alleged corruption.

Through a United Nations spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres called on "all governments to strengthen press freedom and ensure there is accountability for crimes committed against journalists".

The place where Marinova was found dead, at the riverside, is frequented by fishermen and people going jogging.

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Prosecutors said she had been raped and beaten with such force that her face was unrecognisable. We expect a swift and thorough investigation to bring those responsible to justice'.

Journalists' groups and European leaders expressed shock at Marinova's murder. In February the investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his girlfriend were shot to death in Slovakia.

Corruption-plagued European Union member Bulgaria found itself under pressure Monday to find the killer of a television journalist whose brutal murder at the weekend has shocked the country and sparked worldwide condemnation.

In October 2017, Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a auto bomb while investigating corruption among Malta's ruling elite.

On the advice of legal counsel, journalists at TVN were not commenting to their colleagues.

Ricardo Gutiérrez, head of the European Federation of Journalists, called for enhanced protections for journalists across Europe.

A journalist is killed on average every week around the world, according to figures compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The two worked alongside the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

"With enormous pain and insurmountable grief the team of TVN television is experiencing the loss of our beloved colleague, Victoria Marinova", TVN said in a statement.


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