Krejcir bail hearing postponed

2015-07-07 17:21
Radovan Krejcir appears in court where he and four others face charges relating to the murder of Sam Issa (Jenni Evans, News24)

Radovan Krejcir appears in court where he and four others face charges relating to the murder of Sam Issa (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Johannesburg - The bail application of five people, including Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, accused of the murder of Lebanese businessman Sam Issa, was postponed to Wednesday in the Germiston Magistrate's Court after a morning of false starts.

Krejcir, Mfaniseni Memela, Nkanyiso Mafunda, Siboniso Miya and Lybohir Grigorov are accused of murdering Issa in 2013 and of other charges, including the illegal possession of an AK47, ammunition and the theft of money and cocaine.

Issa was shot more than 30 times while he was stopped at a traffic light in his Audi Q7 on October 12 2013, and the five were arrested in connection with this in February 2015.

Some also face charges in other cases being held in the High Court in Johannesburg, one of which relates to attempted murder and torture in a case in which drugs went missing.

A dying associate of Krejcir, George Louka, claimed that it was Krejcir and not him who had killed strip club boss Lolly Jackson. Louka died soon after making the statement.

On Tuesday, the hearing of the Issa five was the last case on the roll, with Magistrate Charlotte Sithole previously having heard cases which included a man allegedly beating up his girlfriend for asking for maintenance and another of a woman accused of beating up a neighbour during an argument.

Police wear bullet-proof vests in court

The sudden arrival of policemen wearing bullet-proof vests and protective helmets and armed with rifles, and who fanned out in the court, indicated that the Krejcir matter was next. Court rooms are usually surrounded by specialist police officers when Krejcir appears in court.

But, instead of proceeding with the bail application as expected, prosecutor Lawrence Ngcaba said one of the accused, Miya, had not arrived and he had also been told Miya, Mafunda and Memela no longer wanted to apply for bail.

"Police left him [Miya] because they were told he is no longer needed in court."

The lawyer for the three was still "on his way", but in the meantime the court noted the withdrawal of their bail application.

That left Krejcir and Grigorov. Their forthright lawyer Annelene van den Heever asked for a short adjournment to go through their affidavits and it was granted. This was also to allow the other lawyer to get to court.

Talk in the courtyard of the old red-brick building during the adjournment was that the other three had changed their minds and now wanted to apply for bail and this was confirmed when court resumed.

A frustrated Ngcaba said: "The last time they asked that the bail application be dealt with... and the next minute the story changes."

In the absence of their lawyer, Sithole moved on to "whoever is ready at this time" to allow Krejcir and Grigorov's affidavits in support of bail to be read into the record and said when the other three accused's lawyer arrived he could decide how to proceed.

Asylum seeker

According to the charge sheet, their charges are: robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder; conspiracy to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances and contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act, in that they conspired to commit a crime and to use a firearm in doing so; assaulting Issa on September 8 and taking from him cocaine, jewellery and other items; using firearms without a licence, including the AK47, and possession of ammunition without a licence; and the murder of Issa on October 12 2013.

Reading Krejcir's affidavit, Van den Heever told the court that the 46-year-old is also an asylum seeker and is detained at Zonderwater Prison.

He is opposing his extradition to the Czech Republic, although his mother, wife and sons are there now. When his wife and children left SA for a holiday in December last year, they were surprised to be told that they could not return to SA, which they want to make their home.

The economics graduate said he had fled the Czech Republic out of fear because his father had been killed and he feared political persecution. His son Dennis was a student at the University of Johannesburg. Last year, Krejcir became a father for a third time.

The family lived off the earnings of his wife's business and his mother sent loans. They owned two properties, one worth R17m and another on the Vaal River. Altogether his assets were worth R30m and he stood to lose too much if he skipped bail and left the country, Van den Heever said, reading from the affidavit.

His wife's property is the subject of a preservation order in a dispute between her and the SA Revenue Services.

He believed the cases against him were an ''orchestrated attempt by organs in the South African government and rogue elements to isolate me''.

He said he could not be extradited until his application for refugee status had been determined.

'I hold no grudge against anyone'

He has no previous convictions in SA but, in his absence, a Czech Republic court convicted him on four cases, which he is appealing at the European Court of Justice.

"I intend to plead not guilty," he said of the Issa allegations.

He said there was no likelihood that his release on bail would pose a danger to public safety or to that of any individual.

"I hold no grudge against anyone," he said, adding that he had no intention of living the life of a fugitive.

"In fact we stand to lose millions if I flee South Africa." He said he was prepared to undergo house arrest or wear a monitoring anklet.

Grigorov, the court heard, is a 33-year-old Bulgarian citizen whose passport is being held by the police. The holder of a computer science diploma from Bulgaria is in the country on a working visa until 2016.

His mother works in Dubai for Medicross and his sister, also in Dubai, for Dettol, both South African-owned companies. His father lives in Sofia in Bulgaria.

He was self-employed in the security business in Bulgaria and moved to SA in 2008 to be with his mother and sister. After a period of unemployment, he bought shares in, and now owns, a granite company.

He is renting in Benoni with his wife and their son, who was born in SA.

He does not earn an income at present and is being helped by his family. His company assets have been valued at R400 000.

He has pending matters in a Pretoria Court for alleged possession of a stolen car and at the Alexandra court, a case of conspiracy to murder is pending.

He said he was not a flight risk and did not have a propensity for violent crime.

'Vague and bold allegations'

Van den Heever said that the charges against her clients were "vague and bold allegations", which she would answer to later.

Van den Heever asked the other three if they were going to apply for bail again and they said no.

Sithole noted that their lawyer had called her in chambers asking to be excused. Then he suddenly arrived and his clients changed their minds again, saying they wanted bail. Muffled snorts in the public gallery could be heard.

But Ngcaba said that he would not be able to continue because he needed to check some of the issues relating to Krejcir's asylum application, which could not be done over the phone.

An annoyed Van den Heever wanted to know why he could not "just pick up the phone", but Ngcaba said this sort of matter required a face-to-face meeting.

After a vexed exchange between Ngcaba, Van den Heever and Sithole, the case was adjourned to Wednesday, for the sake of fairness to all parties, with Sithole ordering that they all be there and be ready to proceed.

But the feisty Van den Heever got the last word in, demanding that the State be prepared.

"I don't want this to be a ruse for another postponement."

Read more on:    radovan krejcir  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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