New Investigation Into Umbrella Murder

Ricin Umbrella Like the One that Killed Georgi Markov

Originally uploaded by Thomas Roche

The case of Georgi Markov is one of the most bizarre in the bizarre annals of cold war espionage. Markov was a Bulgarian defector working for the BBC World Service. He was murdered by (probably) the Bulgarian secret police, with (probably) KGB aid, in 1978 on the banks of the Thames near Waterloo Bridge.

Markov was one of the few people in history killed with an umbrella. Not your average umbrella, which can of course be lethal in the hands of someone not paying attention on the bus, but an umbrella impregnated with ricin, a poison made from castor beans. It’s the same type of poison that was found in February in a hotel room in Vegas — no connection to Markov, but it underscores the terrifying ease with which Ricin can be made, and therefore its utility to killers and nut jobs of every stripe.

Now, since the 30-year Bulgarian statute of limitations is about to expire, CNN reports that Scotland Yard is again on the case:

“The British Press Association reported police had recently visited Bulgaria three times to try and track Markov’s killer(s).

“A team of Metropolitan Police officers traveled to Bulgaria in April 2007, then in March this year and again last month to pursue leads in the case, PA reported.

“British authorities have long suspected KGB staff and Bulgaria’s secret police of involvement in Markov’s death.

“The Bulgarian newspaper Dnevnik reported that British police had requested access to archive files and permission to interview about 40 witnesses.

“The detectives’ activity was triggered by the fact that under Bulgarian law the 30-year statute of limitation on the case expires in September, the newspaper said.”

Umbrella Image from Wikipedia.


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