The brutal murder of journalist Veranika Charkasava remains unsolved six years later.
Ms. Charkasava was found dead with more than 40 stab wounds in her apartment on Nekrasova Street in Minsk on October 20, 2004. She was a staff writer with the Salidarnasts newspaper at that time.
While many journalists link the killing to her reporting, investigators with the Minsk City Prosecutor's Office appeared to ignore work-related motives for the reporter's killing and focused on her relatives as suspects.
Ms. Charkasava’s son, now 20, and elderly stepfather were identified as major suspects in the murder but were cleared in the case in 2005. Although the inquiry into the murder was suspended in February 2007, investigators continue efforts to track down the perpetrators, Syarhey Balashow, senior aide to the Minsk city prosecutor, told BelaPAN.
"No new significant circumstances in the case have been established," he said.
While talking to reporters in February 2008, then Deputy Prosecutor General Viktar Prus said that Ms. Charkasava’s son, Anton Filimonaw, had assaulted a "close person" and gone into hiding in May 2007. That is why, he added, investigators "had valid grounds to think about his involvement in the mother’s murder."
However, the Minsk City Prosecutor’s Office told BelaPAN that Mr. Filimonaw was suspected of attacking his drinking companion, whom he had not met before the incident.
Mr. Filimonaw, who was convicted for counterfeiting in April 2006, was charged with assault occasioning serious bodily harm in May 2007. He had fled Belarus by that time and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
Fellow journalists insist that 99 percent of domestic crimes are solved within days and the murder is likely to have been linked to the reporter’s work. The Agency of Investigative Journalism, a group established at the Belarusian Association of Journalists, suggested that Ms. Charkasava had been murdered as part of a war between two gangs seeking control over a winery in Homyel. In an article headlined "The Price of Life," the group theorized that the reporter could have information, which, if made public, would harm the interests of one of the gangs, which could be a motive for the murder.
Earlier, several reporters insisted that the murder may be linked to the journalist's work to unearth facts about Belarus' alleged arms sales to the Saddam Hussein regime.