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Underworld boss 'Žaluď' gunned down

Infamous Bratislava businessman and alleged underworld figure Peter Steinhubel was shot and killed by an unknown assassin on August 4. Police said that this was the sixth attempt to assassinate Steinhubel in the past six years.
The shooting occured shortly after Steinhubel, known in underworld circles by the nickname Žaluď , or "Acorn" in English, had arrived at the Bratislava premises of Bratislavské Mraziarne, the frozen-food company which he owned. Steinhubel, 34, had asked his bodyguards to prepare an armour-plated Mercedes for him at the plant. As he stepped out of his red Ferrari to switch cars at about 11 p.m., the unknown assassin shot him once in the back.


Peter Steinhubel died August 4.
photo: TASR

Infamous Bratislava businessman and alleged underworld figure Peter Steinhubel was shot and killed by an unknown assassin on August 4. Police said that this was the sixth attempt to assassinate Steinhubel in the past six years.

The shooting occured shortly after Steinhubel, known in underworld circles by the nickname Žaluď , or "Acorn" in English, had arrived at the Bratislava premises of Bratislavské Mraziarne, the frozen-food company which he owned. Steinhubel, 34, had asked his bodyguards to prepare an armour-plated Mercedes for him at the plant. As he stepped out of his red Ferrari to switch cars at about 11 p.m., the unknown assassin shot him once in the back.

Steinhubel died an hour and a half later at Ružinov Hospital, due to severe internal injuries and loss of blood, police said.

According to Jaroslav Ivor, general director of the investigation section at the Interior Ministry, the murderer was hidden on the roof of a building across the street from the entrance gate of Steinhubel's firm. Ivor also said that a special bullet was used to kill Steinhubel, one which expanded on impact and did severe damage to his liver and other organs. The gun, an automatic rifle with telescopic sights, was later found near the scene.

Investigators of the crime confirmed for media that Steinhubel was a member of a Slovak underworld group. "He has been an assassination target for a long time," said Marta Bujňáková, a Bratislava police spokeswoman.

The first attempt to kill Steinhubel took place in Bratislava on March 15, 1993, when he was shot by an unknown assailant. Seriously wounded, he underwent a series of operations and a few months of recovery. In December 1994, his car was blown up in front of the Queen's Pub in a northern suburb of Bratislava, where he was reportedly a frequent guest.

The last unsuccessful attempt on Steinhubel's life occured on May 23 of this year, when a masked man sprayed bullets from a moving car in front of the Holiday Inn hotel in Bratislava, hitting Steinhubel's bodyguard, Bujňáková said. Steinhubel, however, denied the incident when interrogated by the police.

Slovak media have reported widely on Steinhubel's business activities, which included presiding over the Queen of Slovakia agency, which organizes a national beauty pageant. He reportedly owned shares in a company in eastern Slovakia, Tatravagónka Poprad, which manufactures railway wagons. Ivor said that Steinhubel's activities in this firm were one possible motive for his murder.

Ivor also said that Steinhubel had close ties to several cronies of the former Mečiar government. Former HZDS deputy Vlastimil Vicen was among the mourners at Steinhubel's funeral on August 9.

On July 12, customs officers impounded several undeclared weapons and Slovak and German license plates from Steinhubel's car as he was attempting to cross the border into Poland. Steinhubel identified himself to the customs officers with a valid Liberian passport and a visa to Poland.

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