Jörg Haider, the right-wing Austrian politician perished at the wheel of his official Volkswagen Phaeton motor car. We were told by the media that the tragic accident had happened as he was on his way to celebrate the 90th birthday of his mother.
A great funeral was held in the capital of the Austrian province Carinthia. Three bishops in their pink skull caps were prominent on the front row of the black mass of mourners sitting in rows in the city square. Steel helmeted green soldiers were on parade. A gun carriage carried the coffin. The wife picked up fallen rose petals. The President and all the political leaders were there to pay their respects. It was doubtless a moving spectacle.
Haider, 58, trumped in the recent elections by the young and virile populist - the boy Strache, who took 40% of the youth vote and finished 3rd close-up behind the two main parties, was said to have been considering a re-merger of his BZÖ (orange is a lighter shade of brown) with his protege's rapidly ascending xenophobic FPÖ (bright and breezy blue).
Conspiracy theories now abound; a Mossad assassination or a Slovenian terrorist acting alone are two popular scenarios. The fact of the matter is that Haider was drunk. Witnesses in a popular gay bar a few miles from the crash site have spoken of how the politician drank a bottle of vodka in less than an hour and of how he walked unsteadily to his car shortly after 1am on the fateful morning and drove away after refusing a lift home.
Three questions the conspiracy theorists and the rest of us should be asking are these:
Why did the Austrian authorities delete the SMS messages on Haider's telephone?
Why did Haider's deputy, Petzner, get out of Haider's VW a few minutes after the duo left a Velden night club together earlier that night?
Why did Haider feel the need to get drunk?
The time has come for all players in this bizarre game of cover-up to lay their cards, face up, on the unholy altar of truth.