C Town underworld figure refused bail
Cape Town - Suspected Russian crime boss Igor Russol was refused bail by the Cape Town Magistrate's Court on Monday.
The court ruled he was likely to endanger public safety and influence State witnesses if released on bail.
Russol, 40, faces charges of extortion involving R730 000 and theft involving R250 000.
He launched a bail application last week. Magistrate Jasthree Steyn said Russol had failed to convince the court that there were exceptional and compelling circumstances that rendered his release on bail in the interests of justice.
Steyn said he had had to bear in mind that the purpose of bail was to ensure the accused attended his trial, and that South African law considered Russol innocent until proven guilty.
He said the charges were framed under schedule five of the Criminal Procedure Act, which stipulated that Russol had to remain in detention until the outcome of the case, if unable to satisfy the court that the interests of justice required his release.
Prosecutor Aradhana Heeramun had opposed the application on the grounds that Russol's release was likely to endanger public safety, and that he was likely to influence or intimidate prosecution witnesses. Thirdly, his release was likely to disturb public order or security.
The prosecutor had based her opposition on a news report in which Russol boasted he was a leading member of the criminal underworld. This boast had "come back to bite him", Heeramun told the court.
Despite the protests of defence counsel Peter Mihalik, the article had provided the court with valuable insight about Russol, Steyn said.
Russol is to go on trial together with co-accused Kevin Bailey, 50, and Simon Peter Scott, 47, both of whom were last week released on bail.
On the blackmail count, the three allegedly threatened a Milnerton shopkeeper with the closure of his business and the loss of his stock, unless he paid them R730 000.
On the theft charge, they allegedly stole goods worth R250 000 from businessman Andre de la Chaumette.
Russol would be back in court on March 13.