Key Aussie probe witness turns up in Patong

PATONG: A key witness in a major Western Australian inquiry into misdeeds by the state’s police, who disappeared from Australia recently, has turned up in Patong. The witness concerned is Tony Lewandowski, an ex-detective who recently signed an affidavit concerning the rigging of evidence to secure the convictions of three brothers, Raymond, Peter and Brian Mickelberg, for the notorious Perth mint gold heist of 20 years ago. All three received jail terms. Brian’s was overturned nine months later, but Peter spent six years in jail and Raymond eight. Brian died in a plane crash in 1986, but the other two brothers have consistently denied involvement in the gold heist and have been working towards an appeal. In their campaign to clear their names, they have been supported by writer Avon Lovell, author of a book about the case, “The Mickelberg Stitch”. The inquiry into the Western Australian Police had hoped to have Mr Lewandowski testify before it in advance of the brothers’ appeal but he dropped out of sight. The Gazette and the Sunday Times of Perth tracked Mr Lewandowski to Patong, where he and his party were staying at the Safari Beach Hotel. The Gazette spoke by phone with Rohan Lovell, believed to be a close relative of Avon Lovell, who declined to comment on any aspect of the situation. When the Gazette called the hotel again half an hour later, it was told that Mr Lovell and his party had checked out. An employee of the hotel told the Gazette that Mr Lovell’s party, which took two rooms at the hotel, included “two big guys, Australians”. These are believed to be Mr Lewandowski and his “minder”, a private investigator by the name of Mick Buckley. Later today, Rohan Lovell called the Gazette back. “There is no story here,” he said. “He [Mr Lewandowski] is not facing any extradition proceedings. He’s here on holiday. I’m sure the board of tourism and the authorities are keen to protect the rights of tourists.” He declined emphatically to say whether the group would stay on in Patong, or to confirm his relationship to Avon Lovell. The Gazette contacted Patong’s police superintendent, Col Chalit Thintanee, who said that he had no information on the case. Western Australia’s Attorney General Jim McGinty recently told news agency Agence France-Presse that he was considering “all options”, including extradition, to get Mr Lewandowski back to Australia to testify before the inquiry.

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