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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Gangster victim 'a feared killer'
by Nic Rigby
BBC News Interactive, Norwich

Police poster
One of the posters issued by police in the investigation
A murder victim whose burnt body was found in a quiet road in the Cambridgeshire countryside turned out to be an underworld figure called Sako.

This was not his only name, he was known by half a dozen aliases including Hovhannes Amirian, Gevorg Galstian and Sarkis Matewosjan - which may have provided the "Sako" nickname.

He was an Armenian gangster feared by his community and known to police in Germany, Belgium, Holland and Russia.

"He was involved in the murky world of extortion, money laundering and people smuggling," said Det Insp Bert Deane.

"He was a real gangland figure," he adds.

Nishan Bakunts, 28, of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was sentenced at Norwich Crown Court on Thursday after being convicted of murdering Amirian.

The trial of Nishan Bakunts, 28, heard Sako was connected to a murder in Belgium and was also wanted for murder in Moscow.

At the time he was killed, he was on the run and living with Bakunts and his wife 24-year-old Arpine Karapetian in King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Hovannes Amirian
Gangster Hovannes Amirian, 42, was wanted for murder

"He tried to take over the family home," said Det Insp Deane, of Cambridgeshire Police.

Because Bakunts did not want to leave Sako, 42, alone with his wife when he was working at night as a security guard at the Cooper Roller Bearings factory in King's Lynn, Norfolk, Sako would often accompany him and sleep in the factory's medical room.

Det Insp Deane now believed Bakunts, who arrived from Holland just before the murder, had taken Sako to the factory where he was murdered as he lay on the bench in the medical room.

"He was shot four times in the head with home-made bullets," the detective inspector said.

The prosecution said at the trial that Bakunts finished him off with the knife.

Det Insp Bert Deane
Det Insp Bert Deane led the Cambs Police investigation

Det Insp Deane told the BBC that they cannot be sure of the motive for the killing.

He said that Sako could have been extorting money from Bakunts.

There is also the possibility he was blackmailing Bakunts.

Det Insp Deane said it has been one of his longest investigations and he delayed his retirement so he could see the case through to the end.

"It was a challenge. We had to make the arrest before we knew the name of the victim. This is a team effort," he said.

Victim had been stabbed and shot
11 Oct 05 |  England
Two men deny murdering Armenian
10 Oct 05 |  Cambridgeshire

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