Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Murder in Budapest: Was it another Mossad hit?
This piece of mine appears in the First Post.
Back in the early 1990s, ITV filmed its detective series Maigret not in Paris, where George Simenon's famous novels are set, but in Budapest, regarded as a dead ringer for 1950s Paris and a place where production costs were much lower. It's a shame the pipe-smoking inspector is no longer walking the streets of the Hungarian capital, as his skills might have been of great help in solving a baffling murder case that has led to speculation from the US to the Middle East.
On Wednesday March 17, just after seven in the morning, Dr Bassam Trache, a 52-year-old veterinary surgeon with dual Syrian and Hungarian citizenship, was shot dead in his black Mercedes at a junction in Budapest's 16th district. The killer grabbed a black briefcase from the car and made off on foot.
Dr Trache, it was revealed, operated a money-changing business. A few years ago he was acquitted in court of attempting to bribe - with jewellery and Arab cakes - the head of the Budapest police's money-changing investigation division.
At first, his murder was regarded as yet another killing connected with the shady world of money-changing; in the past ten years, there have been no fewer than 123 murders connected with the business in Budapest.
But then a more fantastic theory to explain Dr Trache's murder emerged.
It transpired that on the very day that Trache was killed, two Israeli Gulfstream V-type jets were spotted flying low over the Hungarian capital, leading to speculation that, just two months after the assassination in Dubai of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the Syrian might have been the victim of a Mossad hit.
You can read the rest of the article here.