Updated 3.40pm

A Slovak investigative journalist reporting on tax fraud among businessmen connected to the country's ruling party was shot dead at his family home over the weekend, news website Dennik N reported on Monday, citing the Interior Ministry.

Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend were murdered. Photo: Facebook/Jan KuciakJan Kuciak and his girlfriend were murdered. Photo: Facebook/Jan Kuciak

Dennik N reported that 27-year-old Jan Kuciak, a journalist for news server Aktuality.sk, was killed along with his partner in the town of Velka Maca, 65 km (40 miles) east of the capital Bratislava.

Police said Mr Kuciak was probably killed for reasons connected to his work - a theory German publisher Axel Springer, which owns Aktuality.sk, said was a "justified suspicion". 

"From the information available it seems that the most likely version is a motive connected to the investigative work of the journalist," Slovak police chief Tibor Gaspar told a televised news conference.

Kuciak's last story for Aktuality, on February 9, looked at suspected tax fraud connected to a luxury apartment complex in Bratislava.

The case around the apartment complex prompted protests last year to demand the resignation of Interior Minister Robert Kalinak over his business dealings with property developer Ladislav Basternak, who has been investigated over possible tax fraud. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.

Slovakia's economy has boomed and living standards have risen sharply since it joined the European Union in 2004, but many Slovaks say their country still fails to defend the rule of law, especially in punishing graft.

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