July 30, 2019 / 9:33 AM / 25 days ago

Hungary charges former swimming exec with murder of business rival

FILE PHOTO: Tamas Gyarfas, after his arrest on charges of ordering the murder of a media tycoon in Budapest 20 years ago, a crime he denies, in Budapest, Hungary, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo/File Photo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungarian prosecutors charged former international swimming executive Tamas Gyarfas on Tuesday with ordering the murder of a business rival in Budapest more than two decades ago, prosecutors said in a statement.

Gyarfas, a member and former vice president of the Lausanne-based International Swimming Federation’s Bureau, had denied the charges when he was first detained, in April 2018. He was freed on bail then.

Gyarfas could not be reached for comment. His lawyer, Peter Zamecsnik, said he found the charge “absurd.”

“Based on the investigation material I reviewed, the case will probably fail in court,” Zamecsnik said.

Hungarian media mogul Janos Fenyo was sprayed with submachine gun bullets in his car at a stoplight in Budapest in February 1998. The killing shocked Hungary, which was emerging from Communist rule.

Prosecutors said Gyarfas and Fenyo had been involved in a business rivalry and power struggle from the mid-1990s, which led to strong personal discord between them.

“The accused decided in 1997 to settle the score for good by having the plaintiff killed,” prosecutors said in the statement, which identified Gyarfas only by his initial as Gy.

Prosecutors brought charges against Gyarfas for instigating Fenyo’s murder through an associate, Tamas P, whom Gyarfas had known since 1994, the statement said. Police have said new evidence emerged in 2010 and later, in 2017, which helped the investigation.

In 2017, a Hungarian court sentenced Jozef Rohac of Slovakia to life in jail for killing Fenyo, but at the trial it did not emerge who ordered the killing.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Marton Dunai, editing by Larry King, William Maclean

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