The state’s star witness in the fraud case against Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir is backtracking on his plea bargain agreement with the state in order to overturn his conviction and sentence for his role in the R4.5-million insurance fraud.
Czech-born urologist, Dr Marian Tupy, told the Health Professions Council of South Africa in a letter a month ago that he was planning to launch a review and an appeal against his conviction for insurance fraud.
This comes after Tupy signed off on a plea bargain deal with prosecutors in mid-March, in which he received a conditionally suspended sentence of seven years for his role in signing an insurance claim form where he falsely claimed that Krejcir was suffering from terminal cancer.
It was on the basis of Tupy’s signing the claim that Krejcir received a R4.5-million payout from Liberty Life in July last year, on a death and dread disease policy taken out by Krejcir in November 2007.
Part of Tupy’s plea agreement with prosecutors is to serve as a state witness against Krejcir about the fraudulent insurance claim in Krejcir’s fraud case currently in court.
Tupy’s attorneys wrote the letter to the HPCSA in defence of the doctor’s disciplinary hearing with the council over his medical license.
His attorneys state further: “We submit that our client cannot be found guilty if the full background of this case is known. He did not have the intention to defraud.”
Tupy is also facing an internal investigation by Life Flora Clinic in Roodepoort where he practiced before his conviction.
But Tupy’s attorneys are now claiming that he was not given a fair trial by the state and that the Hawks misled him prior to his plea agreement.
In the attorney’s letter it is claimed that the doctor signed the plea and sentence agreement “under duress” and further that he was “unduly influenced” by security consultant Paul O’Sullivan, as well as the Hawks.
The basis for his review and appeal application, the Mail & Guardian understands, is based not only on the assertions that he was influenced by O’Sullivan and the Hawks to agree to the terms of the plea and sentence agreement, but also that both O’Sullivan and the Hawks knew about the claim form before he signed it last year.
Tupy’s attorneys claim that O’Sullivan gave Tupy “the go-ahead” to sign the false insurance form and that O’Sullivan claimed to be a friend of the state, and therefore he was acting on behalf of the police.
This, it is claimed in the letter, would have meant that the claim paid out by Liberty Life could have been prevented by O’Sullivan and the police as they would have had knowledge that a crime was in the process of being committed.
“I can’t agree”
But O’Sullivan has questioned Tupy’s motives for wanting to overturn his conviction. “He committed an offence and he went before a judge. He had his own lawyer and they thrashed out a plea-bargain over weeks. I can’t agree with any of that.”
O’Sullivan also denied knowing that Tupy had signed the insurance claim form in June last year. “I didn’t tell him to sign anything. He is being economical with the truth. I went to the ends of the earth to help this man. I had no knowledge that he had signed those documents. I only found out in February this year and I took it straight to the Hawks and they took over.”
Although O’Sullivan agrees that Tupy “was under enormous pressure from Krejcir” he rejects claims that he knew anything about the fake insurance claim before this year, adding that he would not have “stood idly by” and let Liberty Life pay the R4.5-million out to Krejcir.
O’Sullivan also claims that Tupy turned down protection offered by the Hawks, and asked them to remove the armed guards from outside his house.
The Hawks have also dismissed the allegations that Tupy was influenced or under duress before his trial.
Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela told the M&G: “There was a long process that led to the plea-bargain and if at any point Tupy was under duress it would have been exposed. We are happy with the process. We dismiss the allegations that he was mislead or that he was under duress because there was thorough enough process and long enough time.”
Polela also said that the police “cannot take responsibility” for O’Sullivan, who is not a member of the Hawks or the police force.
The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.