Hungarian court hands life sentence to man behind Mafia hit that shocked country 26 years ago

Defendant enters court before the verdict. (HírTV caption)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

A high-profile Mafia murder in Hungary dating back 26 years, and which involved a media mogul, has now nearly come to a conclusion, with a Budapest court convicting the masterminds behind the hit.

The individual commissioning the crime, Tamás Portik, received a life sentence, while his intermediary, Tamás Gyárfás, who hired the hitman, received seven years.

The victim in the hit was an entrepreneur with the largest private media holding at the time in Hungary, János Fenyő, who was gunned down in his car by a drive-by assassin with an automatic weapon on Feb. 11, 1998.

After several false starts in the investigation, the cold case was reopened in 2011, when Slovak authorities extradited notorious mafia hitman Jozef “The Dentist” Roháč to Hungary, who was subsequently convicted to life in prison.

In 2017, a renewed investigation uncovered a tape of a conversation between Portik and Gyárfás following Roháč’s conviction, and both were arrested on March 22, 2018.

The court proceedings were delayed by the fact that Gyárfás switched lawyers seven times during the process in a deliberate move — each time the new lawyer had to allow time to learn the particulars of the case. At the time of the crime, Gyárfás was one of the country’s richest businessmen and president of the National Swimming Federation, while Portik was one of the most notorious figures of the Hungarian organized crime scene.

This was the first open execution of a well-known public figure in post-Communist Hungary, and at the time, the hit shocked Hungarian society.

Both sentences are still subject to appeal.

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