ON the surface, murdered family man Flamur “Alex” Beqiri was a successful record company boss with a glamorous wife, reality star sister and affluent lifestyle in London.
But beneath the shiny veneer, the 36-year-old yesterday emerged as a one-time major-league villain in Sweden accused of being an international dope smuggler.
His hidden life of crime seemingly caught up with him on Christmas Eve, when he was shot dead in front of his wife Debora and their young child outside their home in Battersea, South West London.
It doesn’t take fictional Scandi cop Kurt Wallander to see the similarity between the slaying of a record label boss in London and one of Sweden’s most notorious murders.
Mr Beqiri, a Swedish national, was a close friend of convicted robber Naief Adawi, who was targeted by a Syrian gunman while out with his wife Karolin Hakim, a 31-year-old doctor, and their two-month-old baby in Malmo on August 26 this year.
The gunman confronted 33- year-old Adawi outside a falafel shop in the upmarket Ribersborg district. But when Adawi fled with the baby, the assassin turned his gun on Karolin and riddled her with bullets, finishing her off with a shot to the head as she lay dying on the pavement.
The case provoked national outrage and debate over the liberal country’s growing gang culture among immigrant communities. Gang warfare fuelled more than 100 bombings with explosives between January and June this year.
There were 45 fatal shootings during 2018 — a massive increase in a country once renowned for being peaceful.
Karolin came from a law-abiding family and had trained as a doctor in Poland before moving to Sweden.
But her husband, in contrast, was a leading criminal who in 2008 was in a 20-strong gang who stole 62million Danish Kroner — £7million sterling — in one of Denmark’s biggest ever cash-in-transit robberies.
He was caught and jailed for eight years, though most of the gang remain at large and almost all of the money remains unrecovered.
The close timing of the murders of Karolin and Beqiri is unlikely to be a coincidence and Met Police homicide detectives are liaising with Swedish counterparts.
Beqiri was named as one of Sweden’s most wanted men in 2008 over a £2million cannabis smuggling plot.
He escaped bare-footed from a police bust at the Swedish border and subsequently beat a drugs charge by claiming he had no idea that a Dutchman who he had been doing a deal with had 340kg of cannabis in his car.
Instead Beqiri said he had believed he was buying spirits and tobacco from him. As a result he was merely convicted of handling illicit cigarettes and alcohol and was given a suspended sentence.
Detective Inspector Jamie Stevenson, of the Met’s Homicide and Major Crime Command, yesterday confirmed Beqiri’s links to Sweden’s underworld.
He said the native Albanian had lived in London for four or five years, adding: “Work is ongoing to determine what the possible motive could be, and while we retain an open mind, we are considering that this is a targeted attack.”
DI Stevenson added: “We believe Flamur may possibly have been involved in some criminality in Sweden.
“We are in liaison with our Swedish counterparts to try to understand what, if any, incidents there may have been that might have led to someone seeking retribution against Flamur in the UK.”
He confirmed that a lone gunman shot Beqiri “multiple times before fleeing on foot” as he arrived home from an outing with his wife and child at 9pm on Tuesday.
DI Stevenson said the attack was witnessed by Beqiri’s wife Debora and their “very young” child, while neighbours reported Debora screaming “desperately” as her husband lay dying outside their £1.5million home.
The couple had only married in October last year, on the shore of Lake Como in Italy in a lavish wedding costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Beqiri and Debora were photographed for an upmarket wedding website, cutting the cake as fireworks lit the night sky overhead.
Debora told the Grace Ormonde Wedding Style website: “There was always something special about our connection and bond.
“We could be many miles apart, and even though at that stage we were only friends, we would spend hours on the phone.”
Before meeting Beqiri she had formed a close relationship with his sister Missé, who featured in reality TV series The Real Housewives Of Cheshire.
Debora said: “I became best friends with his sister over some time, and it was at her wedding where we actually fell deeply in love.”
Missé, a 29-year-old model, was engaged to Jake Hall, of The Only Way Is Essex, and was previously married to Man United and Sweden soccer star Anders Lindegaard.
She shared a video of Debora and her brother’s wedding with her 239,000 Instagram followers with the message: “Congratulations to my best friend and my brother. I love you both to the moon and back.”
Debora has also appeared in The Real Housewives Of Cheshire and told how Beqiri proposed to her after flying both their families to Austria for Christmas 2017. She woke one morning to find the bedroom floor covered with rose petals and her future husband on one knee.
She recalled: “He played Magic by Coldplay, which woke me up to find him on his knee at the bottom of the bed surrounded by roses. This later also became our first wedding dance song.”
Beqiri paid for guests from around the world to stay at the five-star Grand Hotel Imperiale by Lake Como.
It is extremely unlikely that the wedding was financed by the profits from his company, 20/20 Records, which he launched from a North London address in the same month he was married.
The company had morphed from another independent label, Fantabulous Music, set up by Beqiri in Sweden in 2008 — while he was alleged to have been smuggling huge consignments of cannabis.
Yesterday the 20/20 Records website was taken down.
It had outlined its range of services to the music industry and its stable of artists — mainly small-time Swedish musicians. Only one, Paul Rey, appears to be known outside Sweden.
The firm was not scheduled to return accounts until September next year but one source told The Sun: “The company does not appear to have been generating anywhere near the kind of profits needed to pay for his wedding and lifestyle. There were clearly other funds available to Alex.”
According to Swedish tax records, Beqiri left the country in 2016.
Intriguingly, that year he listed Amsterdam as his home on his Facebook page, rather than London. He is known to have links to Dutch criminals going back to the 2008 bust in Sweden.
A source also claimed yesterday that Beqiri may have been targeted by a South London crime syndicate, adding: “He was undercutting the wrong people in the drug market. It had nothing to do with Sweden.”