21 April 2024 | 12:41 AM

End of line for fugitive?

Key Takeaways

Radovan Krejcir faces imminent arrest for insurance fraud following a deal between the authorities and a doctor who says he was forced to help the Czech fugitive get a R4.5-million payout by falsely claiming Krejcir was suffering from terminal cancer.

The plea and sentence agreement with Dr Marian Tupy — a Czech-born urologist — could also break the log jam in the investigation of the murder of German businessman Uwe Gemballa.

Tupy linked Krejcir to the murder in a statement made in May last year.

Gemballa disappeared after being picked up at OR Tambo International Airport on February 8 last year.

Krejcir has denied involvement in the murder, but new evidence seen by the Mail & Guardian adds circumstantial backing to other allegations about his involvement.

On Wednesday the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court signed off on a deal between Tupy and prosecutors in which he received a conditionally suspended sentence of seven years.

In terms of the plea agreement, Tupy will serve as a state witness against Krejcir — including evidence about the fraudulent insurance claim.

According to the plea, Liberty Life paid out R4.57-million in July last year on a death and dread disease policy taken out by Krejcir in November 2007.

Other evidence seen by the M&G shows the payment was made into an account held in the name of Groep Twee Beleggings, a company in the name of Krejcir’s wife, Katerina-Krejcírová.

However, evidence suggests Krejcir exercises effective control over its affairs.

In his plea Tupy admits Krejcir was not suffering from cancer and that samples submitted for a histological test were not taken from him but from another patient.

In affidavits seen by the M&G Tupy explains that he became acquainted with Krejcir after being introduced to him at the home of insurance broker Peter Faukal, who later sold the Liberty policy to Krejcir.

He claims Krejcir first broached the “possibility of making a false diagnosis” in April 2008. As Krejcir increased his demands, Tupy made inquiries about the background of his patient.

“I ascertained that he was alleged to be either the first or second in command of a Mafia-type organisation that was based in Eastern Europe, with its headquarters in Prague,” Tupy states.

Krejcir has previously scoffed at the suggestion that he is “some big Mafia boss”.

Tupy claims that he feared for his life and contacted forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan for help.

It was then that he drew up the May 2010 affidavit which described how Krejcir had appeared to confirm his involvement in Gemballa’s murder by drawing his hand across his throat.

In a subsequent affidavit Tupy claims that, as the investigation intensified, Krejcir summoned him to a meeting on January 26 this year.

“He showed me a statement I had previously made and told me that if he can prove I made that statement he would kill me, and he also said he would kill Paul O’Sullivan.

“From all of the above it must be clear that I acknowledge having broken the law but, under the circumstances, feel I had no alternative if I wanted to stay alive.”

Krejcir’s lawyer, Piet du Plessis, told the M&G he was aware of the fraud investigation but could not comment until he had seen the Tupy documentation.

Phone records link Gemballa’s last call to Krejcir

A day after German sports car dealer Uwe Gemballa disappeared from OR Tambo airport his wife, who was in Germany, received a phone call from him.

He told Christiane Gemballa that there had been “a small accident” and asked her to assemble a sum of €1-million to be paid into an account that would be detailed later.

She never heard from him again.

Now, according to information obtained by the Mail & Guardian, police have linked the cellphone used to call Christiane Gemballa to a close associate of Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir.

Records obtained from the Vodacom network showed that the phone was loaded with two R110 recharge vouchers minutes before the call was made to Christiane Gemballa.

Vodacom indicated that the vouchers were purchased from an outlet in the same shopping centre as the Harbour restaurant in Bedfordview, known at the time as Krejcir’s hangout of choice.

Surveillance footage from the shop was used to identify the purchaser of the vouchers as a waitress from the Harbour.

It is understood that the waitress, whose name is known to the M&G, confirmed that she was sent by a customer to purchase the recharge vouchers.

The waitress indicated to police she was in fear of her life if she revealed the identity of the person who sent her to buy the voucher.

However, it is understood that she later gave police a statement that there was a group of people at the Harbour that day, including Krejcir and a man described as his “treasurer”, known as “Michael”.

The waitress stated that Michael had sent her to buy the vouchers and she had handed them to him.

The timeline established by former police investigator Ludi Schnelle is understood to show the following:

    21:41: Vouchers purchased and handed to Michael;

    21:55: First voucher loaded on to cellphone;

    21:57: Second voucher loaded on to cell phone;

    22:03: Call made from celphone to Christiane Gemballa in Germany.

According to cell mast records, the phone was in the area of Dowerglen when the call was made, about 5km from the Harbour restaurant.

Schnelle was taken off the investigation last year when a laptop belonging to a suspect disappeared from his office.

Thabiso Mpye (28) was convicted of Gemballa’s murder after a plea and sentence agreement reached in October last year.

He has given police a detailed statement identifying his accomplices, but there have been no arrests since then.

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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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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