A Serbian-born ethnic Hungarian faces charges in a Budapest court for two counts of premeditated murder for assassinations he committed as a hitman for Serbia’s drugs mafia, but the deadly killer is believed to have been responsible for up to a dozen more murders across Europe.
The villain in this real-life crime story is 39-year-old Csaba Dér who was born in Csantavér, the largest Hungarian-inhabited village in the Serbian province of Vajdaság. He now stands trial in a Budapest court for two cases of contract murder on behalf of the Serbian mafia: one in Budapest and one in Amsterdam. He will also be tried in absentia for a Belgrade hit by a court there, but based on his signature methods, he could also be the perpetrator of as many as twelve other murders.
His preferred method was to walk up to his victims in public places, shoot them point-blank with a silenced pistol, then calmly walk away from the scene, change clothes, and disappear.
In one such crime, committed in Budapest in September 2018, he set up a meeting in a Budapest park with a former construction firm owner turned drug dealer named László V. Dér shot him in the back of the head and left the scene.
ButDér must have fled the scene earlier than planned because police found in the car of the victim 11 kilograms of powdered sugar packaged as cocaine, Dér’s wig and a large amount of DNA samples.
Hungarian police entered the pertinent details, including the DNA samples of the case in the Europol database, based on which Dutch police were later able to ascertain that Dér was also the one who murdered Croatian national Ivan Serdarusic in an Amsterdam café.
Based on the same samples, Spanish police was also able to prove that in August 2017, Dér shot Nebojsa Stojkovic four times, who was the head of the Belgrade-based Rakovica clan in a Barcelona park. The latter victim survived after weeks in a coma. The hit was ordered by a rival drug mafia from Montenegro.
After months of joint efforts by the authorities of several European countries, Dér was eventually arrested in Prague on March 2019 while preparing for his next hit and police found a wig, glasses for a disguise and false ID papers in his room.
Due to the international ramifications of his crimes — he is also suspected in twelve other murders, including that of his assistant, Nebojša Karan — law enforcement officials from 14 countries held a conference in Vienna on how best to bring Dér to justice. It was eventually decided that he will face trial in Budapest for the crimes he committed in Hungary and the Netherlands, both of which he has confessed to. The prosecution is asking for a life sentence without parole.
He will also be tried in absentia in Belgrade for the crimes committed there.