The Case of Ashraf Marwan is one to intrigue Sherlock Holmes. To recap it, Marwan fell to his death this June from the balcony of his apartment in the most expensive part of central London, almost within view of Buckingham Palace. Aged 62, he had risen from humble origins in his native Egypt, reaching the very top when he married President Nasser’s daughter. Afterwards he became an advisor to Anwar Sadat, Nasser’s successor. Israeli sources have revealed that he volunteered information to Mossad, the Israeli secret service. Other Israeli sources say that on the contrary he deliberately misled them. Egyptian sources ostensibly treat him as a patriot, not a traitor. After the accusations of being a double agent, at any rate, he went into exile, making a huge fortune as a businessman, notably dealing in arms. He is also reported to have finished writing his memoirs.
A whole range of people, then, might have an interest in killing Marwan. The police maintain that his death is unexplained, and they are investigating. Now The Times has tracked in Budapest a Hungarian by the name of Jozsef Repasi, one of several others including Marwan who were directors of a company called Ubichem. On the day of Marwan’s death these directors were meeting in a building at an angle to Marwan’s apartment. Repasi says, “I was discussing the company. And then someone said, ‘Look at what Dr. Marwan is doing.’ I turned left and saw him falling.” Two men in dark clothes were standing on what he believes was Marwan’s balcony, looking down with suspicious self-control, and they were “of Middle East appearance.” The police claim to have identified the two men, but have no other information or activity to report. One more piece in the detective story is that the only known copy of Marwan’s memoirs disappeared that same day. That same day too, by a coincidence that a fiction writer would hardly dare invent, at the moment of Marwan’s death Tony Blair was driving past on his way to Buckingham Palace to resign as Prime Minister, and the skies were full of helicopters for security purposes.
Marwan is the third Egyptian with alleged ties to security services to have died falling from London balconies. This has prompted one Egyptian commentator, quoted in The Times, to wonder what it is about these damned London balconies on which controversial Egyptians “stand and suddenly fly like a pair of socks.”