Mokbel's dilemma: rat or rot

WITH Tony Mokbel's Big Fat Greek Adventure coming to a close the alleged organised crime boss now faces a clear choice — freedom or family.Now that Greek Justice Minister Sotiris Hadjigakis has signed the formal extradition papers Mokbel will be on a plane (either commercial or chartered) within weeks to return to Melbourne to face drug and murder charges.Mokbel jumped bail while he was on trial for drug trafficking in March 2006. He was sentenced to a minimum of nine years' jail in his absence.He has since been charged with the murders of gangland figures Michael Marshall (October 2003) and Lewis Moran (March 2004).He has also been charged with controlling six drug labs while on the run.The prosecution cases, compiled by the Purana Ganglands Taskforce, are based on phone tap material, money trails, key informers and an undercover agent's testimony.Evidence submitted in recent Magistrates Court hearings allegedly shows Mokbel to be a prodigious drug dealer who doesn't care if the powders his team produce are toxic to his customers.When told his drugs were making people sick, causing them to go to hospital, Mokbel allegedly gave advice that the powders should be mixed with pseudoephedrine to improve potency levels.Analysis of the financial patterns is said to have revealed 44 suspect transactions including $10,000 to his mother as a Christmas present. Police also grabbed a courier who was allegedly about to send $500,000 to Mokbel in Greece.Lawyers, police, criminal associates and even relatives who know Mokbel believe that when he returns he will be desperate to do a deal to seek to minimise his jail sentence.If he agreed to plead guilty he could be entitled to a discount but possibly not a hefty one. Facing life with no minimum, a mandatory discount would still leave him with a monster sentence. Aged 43, he would know that his bleak future could involve swapping his Ferrari lifestyle for a prison-issue walking frame.The problem is that Mokbel is unlikely to be able to sweeten the deal by giving up subordinates.So what does he have to offer?He will have to give information on the murders of police informer Terence Hodson and wife Christine Hodson, who were killed in their Kew home on May 15, 2004, for authorities to even consider plea discussions. Detectives believe the double murder was set up by a corrupt former member of the drug squad.Mokbel will have to give up the former police behind the Hodson murders to have a chance of receiving a sentence of less than 30 years. The deal will be simple — rat or rot.A special taskforce, code-named Petra, is investigating the double murder. Convicted gangland killer Carl Williams has claimed a former policeman told him that Hodson was "a problem" and had to go. Williams claimed the former detective later said the matter had been "sorted". It was just before the double murder.Hodson, a drug dealer, had been executed after he agreed to give evidence against two detectives, Paul Dale and David Miechel, who had been using him as an informer.The case against Dale collapsed but Miechel was found guilty and sentenced to a minimum of 12 years' jail.Taskforce investigators have secretly visited Miechel in jail but he has refused to co-operate with any investigation.Some within Purana would prefer Mokbel to run the legal gauntlet but senior lawyers in the Office of Public Prosecutions have privately indicated they want him to become a witness.While Mokbel might have no issue in sinking bent cops to save himself there is a sticking point. He would have to name the actual killer and the star suspect is a man who is virtually related to him through marriage.The suspect is a cold-blooded killer implicated in the murders of Mike Schievella, 44, and his partner, Heather McDonald, 36, at their St Andrews home in 1990.Police said they were bound and tied and their throats slashed. One theory was they were killed because they were suspected of talking to police.The suspect has been listed as a person of interest in three murders in the 1980s including standover man Brian Kane, who was shot in the Quarry Hotel in Brunswick in 1982.The man has also been named as a suspect in the murder of lawyer-turned-gangland-figure Mario Condello, who was shot in the garage of his Brighton home in February 2006.The former armed robber and gunman once formed a hatred against a policeman who had arrested him. His cell was covered with hanged stick-figures with the detective's name scrawled under each one.Mokbel has previously shown little concern about the welfare of those close to him. When he fled bail his sister-in-law Renata was jailed when she could not produce the $1 million bail surety.Mokbel's Greek lawyers continue to make noises about their pending appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but they know the jig is up.Federal authorities remain determined to make Mokbel's return as low key as possible. There will be no fanfare when he returns to Melbourne and is taken to Barwon Prison.Police Minister Bob Cameron said, "However they get him back here, I'm not particularly fussed and I don't think Victorians are particularly fussed. How much it costs doesn't matter."His de facto wife, Danielle McGuire, her daughter and their baby Renata will have to make their own arrangements.In this week's state budget an extra $4.7 million was allocated to Corrections Victoria to manage high-profile gangland inmates such as Mokbel.