Prinsloo caged for trial
Lyudmila Prokopova and Julian Rademeyer
Baranovichi, Belarus - He doesn't understand what's going on, and he doesn't understand why nobody wants to listen to him, said Dirk Prinsloo, South Africa's suspected child sex criminal, on Monday in a court in Belarus.
Prinsloo's trial on charges relating to a bank robbery in this former Soviet republic started on Monday. Among other things, he insisted that the trial takes place behind closed doors.
"I don't really understand exactly what's going on here, and I ask that the judge will address me more clearly," Prinsloo allegedly said during court proceedings.
Locked in steel cage
He also wanted to know why nobody listens to him.
Prinsloo's hands were cuffed behind his back, and he was surrounded by police officials when he arrived at the Baranovichi district court on Monday.
During the proceedings, he was locked up in a steel cage, which forced him to speak to his advocate, Svetlana Abrosimova, through the bars.
Prinsloo is facing charges of attempted murder, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, robbery and disorderly conduct.
Should he be found guilty, he could get up to ten years in prison. Thereafter, he'll be deported to South Africa.
Failed bank robbery
He insisted that his translator be replaced, and that his trial takes place behind closed doors in order to protect his daughter, Xenia.
Both requests have been denied.
Prinsloo was arrested on June 12 last year in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, after a failed bank robbery in Baranovichi, not far from the flat where he, his girlfriend and their young daughter had lived.
Prinsloo fled to Belarus in 2006 to avoid his trial in South Africa.
In October last year his co-accused, Cézanne Visser, was found guilty on 11 of the 14 sexually related charges against her. She will be sentenced on February 8.
Prinsloo's trial in Baranovichi is expected to last a few weeks.
According to Belarusian police, Prinsloo had bought a toy gun and a balaclava two weeks before the bank robbery. He took along a knife which he'd bought in South Africa. Apparently he kept this particular knife with him at all times, even while he slept.
'Money on table'
Prinsloo allegedly used gardening shears to cut the bank's telephone cables, and blocked a door with a metal rod wrapped in paper.
When he stormed into the bank, he apparently showed the cashiers a poster with the words "Money on table".
Later, according to police, he admitted that he'd written the message with the help of an electronic pocket translator.
According to police, the cashiers had access to a safe and money, but the "brave" women simply refused to hand these over to Prinsloo.
He allegedly assaulted a cashier and then fled when another cashier activated the alarm. On his way out, he allegedly also assaulted a female bank client.
According to the Intex-Press newspaper, four bank workers were injured.
One woman was beaten and kicked. Another woman was trampled, leaving a shoe print on her clothes. One woman had to receive "neurosurgical" treatment.
Prinsloo's fingerprints were apparently all over the bank. He was caught two days later in an internet cafe in Minsk.