A former Israeli diplomat at the centre of a passport scam in New Zealand in 2004 has been named as a suspect in the assassination of a top Hamas leader.
Zev William Barkan is one of 32 people Dubai police say they want to speak to as they investigate the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in the emirate on January 19.
Barkan fled to Israel after the April 2004 arrest of his associates Uriel Zoshe Kelman, 30, and Eli Cara, 50.
The pair were caught in New Zealand trying to obtain a passport using the birth certificate of an unsuspecting Auckland tetraplegic with cerebral palsy.
Barkan, who has not been caught for his involvement in the passport plot, spent time in New Zealand plotting with Kelman and Cara, then left for Sydney, police believe.
But he remained in contact with the pair and kept his New Zealand cellphone active to take calls from Internal Affairs and the travel company he had contacted to arrange a passport.
Senior New Zealand government figures believe the men were Israeli agents.
Officials in the United Arab Emirates have identified five new suspects in their investigation of al-Mabhouh’s killing, sources say.
The five newly identified suspects were believed to be carrying passports from Britain, Australia and France.