Freed killer of Nigerian diplomat reported to have been communist spy

10-01-2006

Prague court officials have just freed on health grounds an old aged pensioner who, after losing 15 million crowns in a Nigerian "investment" scam, killed an official at the country's embassy. And if this tragic story wasn't unusual enough, it turns out that the freshly released Jiri Pasovsky is a man with a most colourful past.

Jiri Pasovsky, photo: CTKJiri Pasovsky, photo: CTK Jiri Pasovsky was tricked out of 600,000 dollars - much of it borrowed - by con artists who claimed to represent the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. He thought he was putting his money into a lucrative oil deal.

Mr Pasovsky then tried to enlist the help of the Nigerian government in getting his money back. In February 2003 a meeting at the country's embassy in Prague reportedly turned into a heated argument, during which he pulled out a gun and shot dead consul Michael Wayi, who was 50, and injured his secretary.

The 74-year-old retired doctor from Melnik in central Bohemia was initially ruled insane; he was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment before being set free.

Mr Pasovsky's release sparked a row between Nigeria and the Czech Republic, which eventually led to his case being reopened. This time he ended up receiving a five-year prison term. But Jiri Pasovsky is suffering from cancer and other illnesses, and on Monday the public prosecutor confirmed a ruling by a Prague city court under which his sentence was commuted.

But that is just half the story. Following his arrest, it transpired that the pensioner had a most colourful history. While working as a Czech Army doctor in the 1960s he was also an agent of the StB secret police, and managed to infiltrate US intelligence agency the CIA while based in the Afghan city of Kabul, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported. The daily said he even passed a CIA polygraph test.

Mr Pasovsky reported on the activities of the US embassy in Kabul, passing on information about Czechs who had sounded out the possibility of defecting. He is said to have worked as a spy for ideological reasons but was also paid.

10-01-2006

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