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Update: Suspect arrested in Germany over killing of Bulgaria journalist

Police in Germany have arrested a man in connection with the rape and brutal murder of Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova, Bulgarian officials said Wednesday.

Update: Suspect arrested in Germany over killing of Bulgaria journalist
Tributes have been paid to murdered journalist Viktoria Marinova in Ruse. Photo: DPA

But they said it does not appear, at least at this stage, that the murder was linked to her work as a journalist.

The suspect was picked up late on Tuesday at the request of Bulgarian authorities, Interior Minister Mladen Marinov told a news conference.

“We have enough proof linking this person to the scene of the crime,” he said.

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.

A German police statement said that the process of extraditing the man to Bulgaria had begun and that a request had been filed with the relevant regional court.

Such procedures under the European arrest warrant can take anything from a few days up to several weeks to complete.

Bulgaria's chief prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov said “at this stage, we do not believe that the murder is linked” to Marinova's work. “But we are continuing to look at all hypotheses.”

“The evidence that we have at this stage leads us to believe it was a spontaneous attack to sexually abuse the victim.”

The body of 30-year-old Marinova, who worked as an investigative reporter and TV presenter for broadcaster TVN, was found on Saturday in parkland near the river Danube in the northern city of Ruse, Bulgarian media reported.

Preliminary investigations showed the cause of death was blows to the head and suffocation.

The murder was described as “exceptionally brutal,” said Marinov. Bulgarian police confirmed she had been raped before she was killed. Marinov said the country's top murder investigators had been sent to Ruse to work on the case.

The attack has shocked the country and drawn international condemnation amid speculation the murder could be linked to Marinova's work as a journalist. The first episode of Marinova's new show Detektor, which aired on September 30th, featured interviews with two investigative journalists working on a corruption investigation into misuse of EU funds.

She is the third journalist to be murdered in Europe in the past 12 months after Jan Kuciak in Slovakia in February and Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017.

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CRIME

German woman ‘killed lookalike to fake her own death’

A German-Iraqi woman murdered a lookalike she found on social media to fake her own death, police have said as new details emerge of the bizarre case that first came to light last year.

German woman 'killed lookalike to fake her own death'

The body of a 23-year-old woman was found in a car in August at the Bavarian town of Ingolstadt with multiple stab wounds.

Police initially said they believed the victim owned the car, but the next day identified her as someone else who looked “remarkably similar”.

The 23-year-old German-Iraqi and a 23-year-old Kosovan man were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

However, police are now working on the theory the pair murdered the victim after tracking her down online because she looked similar to the German-Iraqi.

“Investigators now believe the female suspect wanted to go into hiding and fake her death due to family problems,” they said in a statement Monday.

She had contacted several women who looked like her via social media and attempted to lure them into meeting her by making “false promises”, the police said.

She contacted the victim in early August and arranged to meet her on August 16.

The German-Iraqi woman and the Kosovan man travelled to the victim’s home in Heilbronn, near Stuttgart, to pick her up.

On the way back to Ingolstadt, they allegedly lured her out of the vehicle in a wooded area and killed her, inflicting “a large number” of knife wounds.

The suspects then continued on to Ingolstadt, where the body was found lying in the car in the evening.

According to the daily Süddeustche Zeitung, the German-Iraqi was a beautician who entrapped the victim via Instagram by offering her cosmetics.

Both women had “long brown hair, a dark complexion and a heavily made-up face”, the newspaper said.

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