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Ex-Statek Exec to Stand Trial in Alleged Plot to Kill Partner

October 13, 1998|P.J. HUFFSTUTTER and JANET STOBART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

After prosecutors discovered what they believe is a written confession, a British magistrate has ordered an Orange County businessman, accused of allegedly plotting to kill five people, to stand trial in London.

Hans Frederick Johnston, who once controlled electronics manufacturer Statek Corp. in Orange, was arrested in April by London police. He was charged with conspiring to kill three American attorneys and two Swiss citizens, including his former partner at Statek.

Johnston's criminal attorneys in England declined to comment.

The case is rooted in a convoluted, decade-long dispute between Johnston, 71, and Swiss engineer Miklos Vendel, 57.

After losing control of Statek to Vendel in 1996, Johnston allegedly went to London to seek an assassin to kill his former business partner.

But, according to prosecutors, Johnston feared that the would-be killers, who are still at large, would eventually harm him. So he wrote out his plan to kill Vendel and gave the letter to an acquaintance, with instructions to hand it over to authorities if something happened to him, prosecutors say.

Neither Vendel nor his trio of lawyers, also allegedly targeted for assassination, could be reached for comment.

The trial is expected to begin later this year.

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