Barely a month after taking down legendary Budapest nightlife king László Vizoviczki and his top lieutenants, the Hungarian authorities have made an even more surprising and spectacular round of arrests.
Over the weekend it was revealed that squads of the “counter-terrorism” force known as TEK took into custody five people. The arrests were apparently in connection with murders tied to the “oil wars” of the 1990s, when racketeers, corrupt cops and politicians and other criminals worked together – and sometimes fought against each other – while making billions of forints by selling subsidized home heating oil for purposes other than heating homes.
One of the murders tied to the arrests is the famous car bombing on Aranykéz utca (“Golden Hand Street”) in District V in July 1998 (above left). Here’s how we described that bombing in a 1995 story about an earlier – and presumably unsuccessful – attempt to find those responsible for the outrage:
On that day, entrepreneur Tamás Boros, who was famous for his oil businesses, was walking from a parking garage to his office on Aranykéz utca, meters from the tourist center of downtown Pest. As he walked past a Polski Fiat, someone nearby pushed the button on a remote control device, detonating a bomb in or under the small car carrying the equivalent of four kilograms of TNT. The marked man and three others died in the subsequent blast that set off car alarms across the fifth district: A 24-year-old woman, a young man and a middle-aged man, all of whom were simply unlucky enough to be caught within the lethal radius of the explosion. More than twenty other innocents were injured by Boros bomb, some seriously.
Sources now say that among the arrested is Tamás Portik, who is supposedly pictured above right, escorted by a heavily-armed member of the TEK. A key figure in the “oil bleaching” saga, Portik had been at the top of Hungary’s “most wanted” list a few years ago, but apparently fell off, due to a “lack of evidence.” On Sunday, Portik’s lawyer told the media that the charges against his client were “absurd.” Actually, what’s absurd is that by the time this thing goes to trial it will be 15 years since the bombing, but that’s an unrelated crime.