European News: Hitmen kill the birdman of Palma

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The Independent Online
The man with the biggest collection of parrots, macaws and cockatoos in Europe was shot dead yesterday in Mallorca, along with his eight-year- old son and maid. Police think they were victims of a Mafia-style "hit squad".

Manfred Meisel, 49, a beer importer known on Mallorca as "the Beer King" and manager of a bar that employed 90 staff, was found with with a bullet in his head in his villa near Palma. He had told friends of feeling under threat since March, perhaps because of the enormous amount of cash he handled in connection with his exotic birds, which he imported from the Philippines and Singapore.

No money or credit cards were taken from the villa, and not one valuable bird freed from 400 cages. The killers scaled a spiked perimeter fence and eluded five guard dogs. Meisel's son Patrick was shot twice in the temple while he was sleeping. Claudia Leisen, 30, who tended the newly hatched chicks every four hours, appeared to have had her wrists tied before she was shot in the back. - Elizabeth Nash, Madrid