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INTRODUCTION

Whether it's to silence someone with a secret, to eradicate a rival, or simply in the name of a cause, assassination has been around as long as human beings have existed. We line up 50 cold-blooded killings that have resonated around the world
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US president John F Kennedy was shot dead on 22 November 1963 by former Marine, Lee Harvey Oswald. In 2013, 61 per cent of Americans polled believed his assassination was part of a conspiracy, and that Oswald was not the only shooter

50 ANDRÉS ESCOBAR1

967-1994

In a match against the USA at the 1994 World Cup, an own goal scored by the Colombian footballer Andrés Escobar would ultimately cost him his life. With the goal contributing to Colombia’s defeat and elimination from the tournament, gambling syndicates took their revenge on Escobar. Back in his home city of Medellin, he was shot 12 times while sitting in his car. His killers reportedly shouted ‘Gol!’ after each shot that was fired.

49 VÁCLAV I, DUKE OF BOHEMIA

C907-929

Václav I – also known as Václav the Good or, more commonly, Wenceslaus I – was a popular duke who, after his murder in 935, was elevated to sainthood. He was stabbed to death in the town of Stará Boleslav (part of the modern-day Czech Republic) by men under the instructions of his ruthlessly ambitious younger brother Boleslav, who also ran him through with a lance. Václav is remembered to this day every Christmas in song; although factually incorrect, he is Good King Wenceslas.

48 PETER OF VERONA

1205-1252

e Veronese preacher publicly railed against Catharism (a belief that there are two gods, one good and one evil) and sought to convert many 13th-century Cathars back to Catholic orthodoxy. In 1252, he was attacked by an assassin hired by a group of conspiring Cathars. The story goes that not only was the top of Peter’s head chopped off by an axe, but he wrote ‘Credo in Deum’ (‘believe in God’) on the floor in his own blood before dying.

47 NIKEPHOROS II PHOKAS

C912-969

Although he was Byzantine emperor for just six years during the tenth century, Nikephoros II Phokas was celebrated for his brilliant military mind, which helped strengthen the empire. However, in 969 he was the victim of a conspiracy led by his wife eophano and his nephew/her lover John Tzimiskes. Nikephoros’s assassins sneaked into the palace at night dressed as women, before decapitating the Emperor in his bedroom.

46 SHEIKH MUJIBUR RAHMAN

1920-1975

Mujibur was the founding leader of the new republic of Bangladesh, after it won its independence from Pakistan in 1972 following a bloody war. In August 1975, the President – along with members of his family and his staff – were murdered in a coup instigated by a group of army officers, rumoured to have been backed by the CIA. Mujibur’s murder led to many years of counter-coups and political instability in the new nation.

45 JAMES A GARFIELD

1831-1881

Garfield was the 20th US President, but only served seven months in office before his premature demise. In July 1881, he was shot at a railroad station in Washington DC by Charles J Guiteau, a campaign worker disgruntled by what he believed to be a lack of gratitude on Garfield’s part for helping to get him elected. Despite attempts at a recovery, Garfield died from his wounds 11 weeks later, and Guiteau was hanged the following year.

44 ISOROKU YAMAMOTO

1884-1943

Yamamoto was commander-inchief of Japan’s Combined Fleet during World War II, and thus in command at Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway. This made him a prime target for the US military. Acting on President Franklin Roosevelt’s orders to “get Yamamoto”, and having intercepted vital intelligence about the Admiral’s movements, in April 1943 the US Air Force shot down Yamamoto’s plane over the Solomon Islands.

43 UMBERTO I OF ITALY

1844-1900

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February 2017
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