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Although there is no confirmation that Marinova, who was 30, was murdered because of her television work, the case has led to calls from worldwide and domestic media freedom bodies who have urged a thorough investigation and linked it to Bulgaria's low ranking in media freedom in comparison with all other European Union countries.

German police confirmed a 20-year-old man was arrested in the town of Stade near Hamburg on suspicion of raping, robbing and killing Marinova.

Bulgarian police have detained a suspect in connection with the murder of TV journalist Viktoria Marinova, whose body was found in a park in her Danube hometown of Ruse, a government source familiar with the investigation said on Tuesday.

Daphne Caruana Galizia, Malta's best-known investigative reporter, was killed by a auto bomb near her home vehicle in October last year and Slovak journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova were shot dead in February this year. "Again a courageous journalist falls in the fight for truth and against corruption", the European Commission's First Vice President Frans Timmerman tweeted.

Marinova's slaying follows those of prominent journalists in Malta and Slovakia, with both murders linked to their work and both sparking public outrage. Tsatsarov said the evidence suggested it was "a spontaneous attack, not premeditated".

According to The Guardian, Marinova was widely known for hosting a TV show that broadcast interviews with reporters from the Bivol website on alleged fraud involving European Union funds linked to businessmen and politicians. They said that investigative journalists in Bulgaria are "often subjected to pressure, from mere warnings to intimidation and physical assaults on themselves or their property".

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov said investigators found DNA evidence on Marinova's clothes and body.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov offered condolences to her family and thanked investigators for their work.

Ruse Media  Bul
Ruse Media Bul

Marinova hosted the talk show "Detector" on the channel TVN, where she spoke with other reporters about topics regarding the European Union.

They did not offer any new details about the case after their meeting with the local authorities.

He quoted Juncker as saying previously that "too many" journalists are being intimidated, attacked or murdered and "there is no democracy without a free press".

Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall was murdered in a gruesome case in Denmark past year by Danish inventor Peter Madsen.

But a number of experts in Bulgaria were more sceptical about a political motive, arguing that Marinova was not an investigative journalist and the way the killing was carried out did not fit in with such a scenario. In its 2018 survey, the group described corruption and collusion between media, politicians and oligarchs in Bulgaria as widespread.

Marinova's killing - as a random act of violence or as a targeted hit - comes after two other cases that provoked concerns about press freedom in Europe.

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".

A vigil was being held for Marinova in the Bulgarian capital later Monday.