BUDAPEST: Police arrested the former head of Hungary’s swimming federation after questioning him Tuesday in connection with the 1998 slaying of a business rival.
Authorities identified the man only as T. Gyarfas, saying he is suspected of ordering the killing of media mogul Janos Fenyo, who was fatally shot while his car was stopped at a Budapest traffic light.
Hungarian media said the suspect is 69-year-old Tamas Gyarfas, who led the Hungarian Swimming Federation in 1993-2006 while also holding top positions in European and international swimming organizations and Hungary’s Olympic committee. He also was a key media figure after Hungary’s return to democracy in 1990.
Fenyo, who worked for years as a press photographer, launched a successful chain of video rental stores shortly after returning in 1987 from a stay in the United States. Later, he began building a media company that grew to include popular magazines and newspapers as well as a cable TV channel.
He had a well-known rivalry with Gyarfas, who was the producer and occasional interviewer of “Napkelte” (Sunrise), state television’s widely watched morning program. In the late afternoon of Feb. 11, 1998, Fenyo was shot numerous times with a Croatian-made submachine gun, which later was recovered by police. The assassination shocked the country and speculation about its motive immediately centered on Fenyo’s legal and allegedly illegal business dealings.
A Slovak man, Jozef Rohac, was sentenced to life in prison last year for Fenyo’s murder, but the person who hired the gunman had not previously been identified. Police said that last month they met with a prison inmate identified only as T. Portik, who is currently serving a 13-year term for ordering an underworld killing, to question him about suspected involvement in Fenyo’s slaying.
Gyarfas resigned as head of Hungary’s swimming federation in November 2016, just months before the country hosted the 2017 world championships, the largest sporting event ever held in the country. A campaign for his ouster was led by three-time Olympic champion Katinka Hosszu, who called him a “most harmful factor” for Hungarian swimming.