21 July 2024 | 05:43 AM

Czech fugitive ‘a gangster’

Key Takeaways

Crime-buster Paul O’Sullivan has intervened in the asylum application of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, submitting a devastating affidavit accusing Krejcir of being “an international gangster”.

Krejcir’s bid to be allowed to stay in South Africa was due to be heard by the Refugee Appeal Board last week but O’Sullivan’s petition led to an 11th-hour postponement.

Krejcir’s lawyers asked for more time to respond to allegations by O’Sullivan, who was instrumental in the prosecution of former police chief Jackie Selebi and businessman Glenn Agliotti, and they have declined to respond to questions from the Mail & Guardian.

Krejcir is being sought by the Czech Republic on charges ranging from fraud to kidnapping, but has staved off extradition since being detained on entry into South Africa in 2007 by claiming he is the victim of a political conspiracy in his home country.

A successful asylum application — the appeal is typically held behind closed doors — would put paid to extradition proceedings that are still pending.

The O’Sullivan dossier delivers some startling new allegations, all of which Krecjir’s lawyers, Chris Watters, dismissed as “unfounded”.

The most sensational accuses Krejcir of telephoning O’Sullivan on September 9 2010 and telling him: “I will make you suck my cock, then I will kill you.”

But the most telling evidence assembled by the maverick forensic investigator consists of a series of affidavits by former associates of Krejcir that are attached to O’Sullivan’s statement.

Two have already surfaced in the media.

One is by former Cypriot banker Alekos Panayi, confessing to his involvement in a money-laundering scheme for the exchange of assets here and overseas.

He alleges that Krejcir and strip-club boss Lolly Jackson, who was killed, were partners in one of these operations and that Krejcir used George Louka, alias George Smith, as his proxy.

Smith is suspected of later shooting Jackson and disappeared after the murder.

The other statement is by businessman Juan Meyer, who says he overheard an angry telephone exchange between Krejcir and German supercar trader Uwe Gemballa, who was also killed, and how Krejcir allegedly told Meyer afterwards that he would organise a “surprise” for Gemballa.

Krejcir has stated that he has not spoken to Gemballa for years and that Meyer’s version is tainted by his own legal problems.

Gemballa disappeared after arriving at OR Tambo airport on February 8 last year.

The M&G previously reported that the German was to meet a close associate of Krejcir, Jerome Safi, who had contacted Gemballa about setting up a branch of his sports car franchise in South Africa.

Safi has stated that Gemballa never arrived for their meeting.

In September last year police made a breakthrough when Thabiso Mpye confessed to his role in the kidnapping and murder of Gemballa and led them to where his body was buried near Pretoria.

A plea agreement concluded by Mpye said he assisted “other perpetrators whose identities are known to the state” and the witness list suggested the investigation was focusing on people associated with Krejcir.

Among the witnesses listed was Krejcir’s personal physician, Marian Tupy.

Now the O’Sullivan dossier has disclosed a statement by Tupy in May 2010 that sets out how the doctor was drawn into Krejcir’s circle and gradually came to fear for his own safety.

It also explains how O’Sullivan became involved when Tupy contacted him for help after Krejcir allegedly pressured him into agreeing to diagnose, falsely, that Krejcir was dying of cancer.

Tupy states: “On or about the 18th February 2010, Krejcir came to my rooms. He would often come to my rooms, he would just walk into my rooms … not having made an appointment. This also made me very uncomfortable. He would bring strange people with him, people that were involved in criminal activities.

“On this particular day, I mentioned to him that the media had linked him to a German guy that had gone missing, by the name of Uwe Gemballa.

“When I mentioned this to him he smiled. I then asked him what had happened to Gemballa and he then put his hand to his throat and drew his hand across his throat making a cutting sound with his mouth and then he pointed to his own chest and said ‘It was me’. I realised that he is a very dangerous man indeed.

‘In the last week or so, more particularly since the shooting of Lolly Jackson, Krejcir has been at me to hand over the file that indicates that he is dying of cancer.

“He has been phoning me constantly … I wanted to simply shred the file and not to cooperate with him at all, but I called Paul O’Sullivan and he said he would come and see me.”

The Gemballa investigation appears to have stalled since the removal of investigating officer Ludi Schnelle last year.

He was transferred after a laptop seized as part of the investigation disappeared from his office.

Legal challenge to questions

Chris Watters, Radovan Krejcir’s attorney, has refused to answer questions from the M&G and has threatened to press criminal charges against the paper for supposedly breaching the confidentiality requirements of the Refugees Act.

He said: “Our client cannot, as a matter of law, enter into a debate with yourselves or anyone else on the various questions you have posed outside of the processes before the board.

“In the circumstances, our client is legally unable to respond to the questions you pose and hereby declines to do so.”

Watters warned: “While we recognise that you are intent on conducting a debate regarding our client’s asylum application in the media, we ask you to note that we are assembling a dossier containing every communication from yourselves and every item that appears in your newspaper relating to the proceedings before the board …

“We do so in order to place such material before the relevant authorities to, inter alia, initiate appropriate prosecutions for the criminal conspiracy to breach the provisions of the Refugee Act …”

The Act provided that “the confidentiality of asylum applications and the information contained therein must be ensured at all times” and failure to comply with the Act “without just cause” could attract criminal sanction.

Legal advice to the M&G is that the provisions cannot be interpreted as imposing a prior restraint on publishing information concerning an applicant for asylum that emanates from a third party, such as Paul O’Sullivan, and is in the public interest.

This article was produced by amaBhungane, investigators of the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a nonprofit initiative to enhance capacity for investigative journalism in the public interest. www.amabhungane.co.za.

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Buyeleni Sibanyoni and Sam Sole

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