FILE PHOTO: Miroslav Marcek walks inside the courtroom at a preliminary hearing as he and other defendants appear on charges of…
FILE - Miroslav Marcek walks inside the courtroom at a preliminary hearing on charges of ordering and carrying out the murders of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee Martina Kusnirova, in Pezinok, Slovakia, Dec, 19, 2019.

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA - A Slovak court on Monday sentenced former soldier Miroslav Marcek to 23 years in prison for shooting and killing investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova in February 2018.
 
Marcek, 37, who was not present at the sentencing, had admitted guilt in the case, which led to nationwide protests and eventually brought down the Slovak government.
 
"It was cold-blooded and malicious. Victims did not have a chance to defend themselves," presiding judge Ruzena Szabova of the Specialised Criminal Court said at the hearing in Pezinok, north of Bratislava. "His confession was a mitigating circumstance."
 
Prosecutor Juraj Novocky, who asked for a 25-year sentence, appealed against the sentence.
 
Kuciak had covered corruption and the links of influential businessmen to political, judicial and police leaders.
 
Businessman Marian Kocner, who was a target of Kuciak's reporting, is standing trial with two others in separate hearings on charges of procuring the murder.