A missing man who vanished after returning home from his incarceration in a Russian penal colony has been emotionally reunited with his mother thanks to the Hackney Citizen after he resurfaced in Dalston in confusing circumstances.
The story of Christoph Martin Häusler, 46, is as bizarre as it is disturbing and mysterious. A former architect from a comfortable middle class home, he was once a promising young politician and businessman in his native Switzerland before he went missing for the first time around seven years ago.
His disappearance was considered so strange that it was widely reported in Swiss and international media and was a talking point among his former colleagues and business associates, who wildly speculated about where he might be.
As far as can be ascertained from Swiss media reports and Häusler’s own account of what happened, he was imprisoned for two years in Russia after being tracked down by the present day equivalent of the KGB following his escape from a low security prison in the Caucasus.
He had at that point already served a 10-month sentence for illegally crossing the border, having travelled to the North Ossetia region. At the time it was thought he may have been hoping to join Islamist rebels there – though Häusler’s mother denied her son would ever have entertained any such aspirations and insisted he was a vulnerable person.
Häusler maintained he was tortured in Russia – one of a series of countries, including Morocco, which he travelled to in the mid-2000s – after getting into trouble over travel documents.
He said he ran away from the penal colony to try and avoid being transferred to another detention centre in Siberia.
Häusler, who it is thought has a history of mental health problems and whom professionals consider may be dangerous to himself or others, has neo-Nazi imagery – including a skull and the letters “SS” – tattooed on his body.
Yet for at least three months he has been living freely in Dalston, just a mile away from one of Britain’s largest Jewish communities – a revelation that is likely to prompt urgent questions about how and why he ended up here.
Since arriving in the UK he has intermittently slept rough and in a homeless hostel, and he has been convicted of one crime – threatening and verbally abusing people in Stoke Newington.
He also faced allegations he assaulted a man in Broadway Market, though this charge was dismissed and the criminal proceedings in this case have been abandoned.
Police have had concerns about him. Two weeks ago they tweeted a missing persons appeal asking for members of the public to call 999 if they saw Häusler and informing people officers were concerned for his welfare.
Hackney Police later confirmed Häusler had been found on 11 November and detained.
After a source came forward to the Hackney Citizen with information, this newspaper located Häusler’s mother Nelly Lemaire-Moos, who said she had not heard from her son in months, was worried for his safety and had no idea where he was.
She was thankful for the information about his whereabouts and immediately made arrangements to travel to the UK, hoping to take her son back to Switzerland with her to ensure he receives the care and medical help he needs.
She told the Hackney Citizen her son had expressed a desire to have his far right tattoos removed.
She said: “He wanted them gone, but it was so expensive in Switzerland.
“I know that he has questionable tattoos, and I know that he was in a very desperate situation when he did them, having just lost someone, but I don’t want to elaborate, it’s just too painful.”
She added: “Whatever he does, he will always be my son.”
Franz Iten, a former auditor for one of Häusler’s Swiss businesses which went bankrupt, expressed surprise Häusler had been tracked down living in London.
He told the Hackney Citizen: “This was a very long time ago, but I heard that he’d left Switzerland and was then arrested somewhere in the East, Russia or Georgia.”
“I am not sure what happened to him”
Häusler’s mother is currently in Hackney and has been reunited with him. She saw her son after his return to Switzerland from Russia but had not seen him since the start of this year and has been concerned about his whereabouts for many months.