Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir is a public figure who used journalists to thrust himself into the spotlight so the media should be granted access to his refugee status appeal, a lawyer argued at the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday.
Alfred Cockrell was the first lawyer to be heard at the special court hearing held in Pretoria, which is set to determine whether the Refugee Appeal Board’s decision to bar the media from Krejcir’s upcoming asylum appeal should be upheld.
In his representation of the Mail & Guardian, Independent Newspapers and Media24, Cockrell said “a depersonalised summary of what happened” will be of no help to anyone.
The public will want specific details of what happened during Krejcir’s appeal and the only way that can happen is by media reportage, said Cockrell.
In fact, Cockrell pointed out that Krejcir was the one who publicised his asylum appeal but then turned around and requested that it be held behind closed doors.
‘It doesn’t work like that’
“You can’t use the media for one purpose and then turn around and say you no longer want the media. It doesn’t work like that,” said Cockrell.
Krecjir openly courted the limelight and immersed himself in the criminal underworld, said Cockrell.
And to further demonstrate Krejcir’s craving for publicity, Cockrell told the court that it was a well-known fact that Krecjir had willingly authored a book called Radovan Krejcir Revealed.
These actions contradict a request made by Krejcir in his affidavit that his privacy be respected by not allowing the media access to his appeal, said Cockrell.
Representing Krejcir, advocate Gilbert Marcus SC said Cockrell’s argument was “ambitious …, misconceived … and wholly inappropriate”.
Marcus will continue his representation on Friday.
No stranger to controversy, Krejcir was facing fraud charges until they were dropped a few months months ago. He made headline again this year after lodging a multimillion rand claim against the estate of late strip-club kingpin Lolly Jackson, claiming that the latter had yet to repay him money he had borrowed from Krejcir before his death.
Currently holding a temporary refugee permit, Krejcir is hoping to his appeal will give him permanent asylum in South Africa as he fears being sent back to the Czech Republic, where he was found guilty of various crimes in absentia.
* this article was first published by the Mail & Guardian Online on November 15 2012.
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