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Trade News - Diamonds-USA.com
  Thursday, October 04, 2007   
 

Vienna: Investigators Baffled in Murder of Diamantaire


jeweller and diamantaire Werner Haas.

Haas, 46, was vice president and spokesman for Diamant-Club Wien. Hass was shot twice in his Vienna home office -- one bullet hit Haas in the front and another in the back of his torso -- in what was first believed to be a robbery.

But police have been unable to find a motive or suspects for the crime, despite pouring over the meticulous phone and computer records in the office.

“We know still nothing but we are continuing to work with the extensive data”, Kriminaldirektion lieutenant colonel Thomas Stecher told the German language daily Wiener Zeitung.

Some time between 7 a.m. and noon that day, police claim the assailant entered the premises without forced entry, leading investigators to believe the murderer was someone known to Haas, and was likely invited inside. While Haas was found dead next to his opened safe, with his wallet and credit card missing, valuable gemstones and pieces of jewelry were left in plain view. Police are still unsure if anything else was taken without the determination of a complete inventory audit by his partners. 

Stecher told the German language Der Standard, that police had no offical statements regarding the motive, but that much could be learned once DNA and ballistic investigations were complete.

Stecher, however told the Wiener Zeitung that authorities were investigating “in all directions,” but that evidence pointed toward revenge or a “jealousy murder.”  The investigator said that police were concentrating on questioning the single man’s female acquaintances, as well as the 1,500 business contacts stored on his computer.

Jeweller and long time acquaintance Leopold R?ssler told the Zeitung that he could not fathom such a thing happening to his friend. R?ssler claimed Hass was very careful at work in protecting his safety, and a well-liked man with no enemies.

“Haas did not meet with anyone he did not have a date with or a reason to let in ," he said. “Werner was a respectable business partner and liked on all sides by people," he said. 

The last person known to have spoken with Hass was quickly ruled out by investigators as a suspect. An unnamed friend, a sometimes golf partner from Slovenia, spoke with Hass around 7 a.m. via telephone from his country home.  Investigators also say Hass last accessed his computer at 8:30 a.m.

On the evening of October 4, 2007, Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses expressed his dismay  and condolences through a press release.

“This is a senseless and outrageous tragedy,” he said. “Nothing that we do or handle could ever justify such as an act, and we hope that the Austrian police authorities will be able to bring the perpetrators to justice as soon as possible. Our hearts go out to Werner’s family and to his colleagues and friends at the Diamant-Club Wien,” Blom wrote. 

Besides being the vice president and spokesman for the Vienna diamond bourse, Haas was the owner of De Haas Vienna, a jewelry house he co-founded in 1986 with EH Lugschitz Ronge, with offices in London and Japan. He was also a generous contributor to local charities and a frequent sponsor of golf tournaments, a game he was known to have a strong passion for 
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