The widow of murdered British artist Tonio Trzebinski who was shot dead in Kenya 15 years ago has told an inquest how she slashed his paintings with a knife after she discovered he was having an affair, the last time she saw him but denied she was involved in his murder.
41 year old Mr Trzebinski was driving towards the gate of the Karen villa owned by his mistress, Natasha Illum-Berg, on October 16, 2001, when he was killed by a single shot fired at point-blank range into his chest.
Speaking at the Nairobi inquest into her former husband’s death, German-born fashion designer, Mrs Anna Trzebinski, revealed how she discovered the affair after pressing redial on her husband’s phone and recognising Ms Illum-Berg’s voice.
According to the report in the Times newspaper, she told the court she immediately confronted him in his studio and shouted: “I want you to feel the pain that you made us feel!”. Then she said she held the knife up to him and cut his painting.
“I just knew that it would be so hurtful and devastating for him, for me to damage his paintings.”
– Anna Trzebinski
Three weeks after the fight, Tonio was found lying dead a few metres from his vehicle outside the gates to Ilum Berg’s home.
When she heard of his death, Anna said she “went into shock”.
“It was such a blur. I remember shouting at my friends saying ‘have you actually seen him because if you haven’t it hasn’t happened’ because he is such a larger than life person this could never happen to him.
“He really was such an extraordinary friend and a great husband and good father.” – Anna Trzebinski
The Telegraph reports that when asked if she had anything to do with the murder, Mrs Trzebinski, who was at a rehabilitation centre in America on a therapy course called Women Who Love Too Much when her husband was shot, replied: ‘Absolutely not. I can tell you it’s deeply offensive to me and my children that that should even be thought.’
Her children with Mr Trzebinski, Stas, 24, and Lana, 23, were in court for the inquest.
Mrs Trzebinski has since remarried and still lives in Kenya.
The inquest comes after years of campaigning and detective work by Mr Trzebinski’s 79-year-old mother, Errol who never believed the original police theory that her son’s death was the result of a simple carjacking that went wrong as neither his car, expensive watch or cash were taken.
Soon after his murder, rumours surfaced that the killing was an act of revenge.
Police questioned his wife along with other family members and friends and it has since emerged that the murder may have links to organised crime.
The case bears an uncanny similarity to the murder almost exactly 60 years earlier of British peer and roguish philanderer Lord Erroll who was also shot dead in his car while on his way to visit his mistress, less than a mile from the spot where Mr Trzebinski was killed.
The murder of Lord Erroll was eventually turned into a novel, and a film, titled White Mischief which starred Charles Dance and Greta Scacchi.