‘Confession beaten out of Krejcir co-accused’

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Copy of ST main rad287 (42478817) INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir File picture: Chris Collingridge

Johannesburg - The members of an elite police unit guarding the court in Radovan Krejcir’s trial have been accused of influencing one of the Czech fugitive’s co-accused into making an alleged confession.

On Thursday, prosecutor Louis Mashiane began a trial-within-a-trial when he asked the court to accept a statement from Krejcir’s co-accused, Desai Luphondo, which was made shortly after his arrest in November.

Although it was only referred to as “a statement” in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, The Star has reliably learnt this is the alleged confession made by Luphondo implicating Krejcir and others in a drug deal and kidnapping.

This alleged confession was discussed during Krejcir’s and Luphondo’s bail application in December, when Luphondo’s ex-legal representative claimed it was beaten out of him by police.

Advocate Annelene van den Heever, who represents Krejcir and Luphondo, objected on Thursday to the statement being entered into the record as several policemen, many tasked with guarding the court, were present during Luphondo’s arrest.

She said their objection was based on allegations that the statement was not made freely or voluntarily, and that Luphondo was under “undue influence” from officers at the time.

The trial was even postponed for several minutes as Luphondo pointed out to the State policemen that were present during his arrest, including several members of the elite police unit, the Tactical Response Team (TRT).

Many of the TRT officers named by Luphondo have provided security for the trial.

“We believe the persons’ (police) cellphone records will place them at various strategic places from the arrest proceedings up to the making of the statement,” said Van den Heever.

She said they would apply to receive these records as well as tracking data from police cars used during the arrest, which would prove the police present in court were “part and parcel” of the investigation team.

She named the make and model of nine alleged police cars used, but said she could not provide licence plate numbers for them because they “are changed as frequently as people change their shirts”. Van den Heever said these officers should be removed from court.

Proceedings in Krejcir’s kidnapping, attempted murder and drug-dealing trial have been overshadowed by security issues this week after Judge Colin Lamont said on Tuesday his personal security was being investigated.

On Thursday, Judge Lamont told the court there was no evidence that Krejcir or any of his co-accused were implicated in this investigation. He postponed the trial until Monday to allow the State to consult with the officers named by Luphondo and to give authorities time to replace them with other officers.

During his bail application in December, Luphondo’s legal representative, advocate Andre Steenkamp, said: “This man was brutalised to get a confession.”

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