Devious? Moi? Krejcir pulls his ‘jail torture’ application
His team denies it is simply a tactic to scupper the other criminal proceedings against him
After more than a year of postponements, Radovan Krejcir has withdrawn his application to improve his “torturous” prison conditions, though his legal team has denied accusations that he’s using delaying tactics to scupper his other criminal proceedings.
Last week, Krejcir was meant to return to the High Court in Johannesburg – representing himself – to argue as to why the department of correctional services (DCS ) had allegedly been negligent in housing him while serving his 34-year prison sentence, but he immediately withdrew his application.
Krejcir is at the epicentre of a series of criminal cases in SA, including charges of conspiracy to kill forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan and a high-ranking police officer, Colonel Nkosana Ximba, and alleged involvement in the murder of suspected Bedfordview drug kingpin Sam Issa. He is also still wanted in the Czech Republic after being convicted in absentia for a series of criminal and civil cases in his home country.
Since his incarceration more than five years ago, the criminal trials against him have stalled, and in many of them he’s been forced to represent himself, allegedly because of a lack of funds, although he has had some legal assistance from attorney Jeff Mendelson.
However, since 2017, Krejcir has claimed his prison conditions have become increasingly worse. From lack of access to medication and psychiatric treatment, “de facto solitary confinement” to a lack of an orthopaedic mattress, Krejcir has repeatedly claimed he is being tortured, particularly when being kept at Leeuwkop Prison in Gauteng. In 2017, he succeeded in one application at the high court, which awarded him some privileges, but he has claimed the department has repeatedly broken the terms of this ruling, and in his most recent application he wished to have numerous officials from DCS held in contempt of court.
Last week, Krejcir appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on charges relating to an alleged plot to escape from Zonderwater prison, set to take place several years ago while he was in custody there. The state has claimed that the plan would have entailed dozens of armed men storming the prison to bust him from his cell, commit strategic murders elsewhere to distract authorities, and smuggle him out of the country.
However, it was at these proceedings that it was revealed the case had been postponed for months because of Krejcir’s prison conditions application. When Mendelson revealed Krejcir had since withdrawn the application, prosecutor Jacob Serepo told the court the Czech had clearly been using the application to delay his other proceedings, a claim the defence denied. Serepo insisted this was a sign Krejcir was not serious about his supposedly terrible prison conditions, but Mendelson told the court this was a “fallacious” argument.
While this argument remained tangential to the Kempton Park proceedings, Mendelson, speaking to Times Select this week, explained the reasons for the withdrawal.
First, he said, in the two weeks building up to the prison conditions application, he and another legal representative had been denied access to the prison where Krejcir is held on both days they were set to assist Krejcir with his argument.
However, beyond this, after consulting with Krejcir last week, the Czech had indicated he believed the presiding judge in the conditions application was biased, and that the state had also indicated it was going to apply to the court to overrule the other high court orders that Krejcir had already secured. As part of a bid to ensure he would have time to properly argue to maintain these other rulings, Krejcir decided to withdraw the application entirely, according to Mendelson.
He explained his client would have to re-enroll the application again to pursue it before a different judge, although if the Czech was set to represent himself, the application would have to be approved, again, by the deputy judge president, meaning it could be months before the application returned to court.
Times Select previously reported how Krejcir was in consideration for mental observation due to allegedly becoming suicidal, and that the reason his security and prison conditions had been made more stringent was because a police uniform had been found in his cell in 2018.