Greek PM orders quick probe into journalist’s murder


Greece is reeling from its second killing of a high-profile journalist in 11 years, after Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over the weekend ordered an immediate investigation into the death of George Karaivaz, a veteran crime reporter and blogger.

Karaivaz, who worked for private broadcaster Star TV, was shot dead outside his home on Friday, drawing widespread condemnation and continuing a deeply worrying trend in Europe.

Karaivaz’s murder came just a few years after Malta’s investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb in 2017 and Slovakia’s Ján Kuciak and his fiancée were gunned down outside their home a year later. The killers in both cases confessed their crimes but the links those who hired them have yet to be proven.

Karaivaz was returning home from work when two people on a motorbike opened fire shortly after 2pm local time on Friday. He was shot dead in what police described as an “execution-style” murder. Thirteen bullet casings were found at the crime scene, originating from a 9mm pistol with a silencer, police said.

“Murdering a journalist is a despicable, cowardly act. Europe stands for freedom. And freedom of the press may be the most sacred of all,” Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president, wrote on Twitter on Friday. David Sassoli, European parliament president, said that he was devastated by the news and that “investigations must clarify urgently whether the killing was linked to [Karaivaz’s] work”.

This latest murder also highlighted the fragility of media freedom in an increasing number of EU countries — an unsettling reality underscored by Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index. The ranking placed Greece fourth-last in the EU, with only Bulgaria, Hungary and Malta faring worse.

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Greek journalists have continued to be the targets of life-threatening violence: Eight months ago, tabloid owner Stefanos Chios survived after being shot outside his home.

In 2010, investigative reporter Sokratis Giolias was shot on his doorstep in Athens in front of his pregnant wife. The perpetrators of that murder are still at large, even though a far-left terrorist group claimed responsibility for the killing.

Karaivaz, however, had not received any death threats and was not aware of being followed, his colleagues said.

A statement on Karaivaz’s blog said: “The founder and owner of bloko.gr is no longer with us. Somebody chose to silence him, to stop him with bullets from writing his stories.”

eleni.varvitsioti@ft.com; @Elbarbie

Chart du jour: The Great Escape

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Planet Europe

Markus Söder, Bavaria’s premier and head of the state’s Christian Social Union © Reuters
  • Markus Söder, prime minister of Bavaria, has declared his intention to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor. The step pits him against CDU leader Armin Laschet in the jostling to lead the Christian Democrats in this year’s federal election. (FT, FAZ)

  • Brussels and London have made progress on talks on Northern Ireland, raising hopes of a deal that could calm tensions and street violence. (FT)

  • Poland’s finance minister has urged the country’s political parties to vote in favour of the EU recovery fund, in a sign of the battles that lie ahead for the bloc’s borrowing plans. (FT)

  • France announced an acceleration of its much-criticised Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Sunday, as efforts in other EU countries stepped up a gear compared with the first quarter. (FT)

  • Montenegro has asked the EU for assistance with paying off a $1bn Chinese loan for an incomplete highway project. (FT)

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Coming up this week

The European parliament returns from Easter break with a week of committee meetings including debates on a digital euro and plans to tackle abusive trading practices.

The European Commission is expected to unveil its borrowing strategy for the Next Generation EU recovery plan on Wednesday. EU finance ministers meet on Friday to discuss the EU recovery fund and Banking Union.

jim.brunsden@ft.com; @jimbrunsden

Heads-up to our subscribers: On April 26, we will relaunch the Brussels Briefing in a smarter, punchier format, expanding its coverage to bring you the most important trends, topics and people driving the European agenda. The newsletter will continue its strong coverage from Brussels but will add daily dispatches from Berlin, Paris, Rome, Athens and other capitals, responding to your demand for more original reporting on the big stories that matter in Europe — and beyond. The newsletter also gets its own editor in Valentina Pop, a polyglot journalist who has been covering the EU for more than 10 years. Follow her on Twitter @valentinapop.





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