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Johannesburg - Notorious Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir scored a partial victory against the National Prosecuting Authority on Thursday morning after buying three months to prove that his asylum application will be successful.
Krejcir has spent the past six years fighting the Czech Republic’s attempts to extradite him.
His homeland wants him returned to face a series of charges which he claims were trumped up by the government because of his involvement in a political scandal.
His extradition hearing was meant to start in late August, but his legal team applied for an indefinite postponement - at least until a ruling has been made on his application for refugee status.
Krejcir’s dramatic version of his political involvement in the Czech Republic has been widely reported on.
He claims to have invested millions into Stanislav Gross’s political campaign over 10 years ago - following which the former Czech prime minister allegedly reneged on their financial agreement. This, he claims, resulted in him being placed on a political hit-list that forced him out of the Czech Republic.
The first attempts to extradite Krejcir began in 2007, but the renewed application from earlier this year has only recently made it to court.
At his previous appearance at the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, his lawyer Mike Hellens said he was convinced Krejcir’s prospects of receiving refugee status in South Africa were so good that trying to extradite him would be a waste of time and money.
Hellens argued that Krejcir’s attempts to apply for refugee status should first be finalised, because if he was granted asylum, he couldn’t be forced to leave the country.
Krejcir’s asylum application was denied in 2008, but his attempts to file an appeal with the Refugee Appeals Board remains at a standstill after media houses lodged their own application to sit in on what would normally be closed proceedings.
Hellens said the Constitutional Court’s decision on allowing media access into the asylum proceedings was “imminent”, so Krejcir should know soon whether he’ll be granted leave to stay in South Africa as a refugee.
But NPA prosecutor JJ du Toit insisted at the previous appearance that the extradition hearing and the refugee application could run concurrently, and would ultimately save the court time and effort.
However, he could not argue against Hellens’s claims that Krejcir had “great prospects of success” in his bid for asylum.
On Thursday morning Magistrate William Schutte ruled that should Krejcir be granted refugee status, it would drastically alter the course of the extradition hearing, possibly rendering proceedings obsolete.
However, he granted a post-ponement just until December for Krejcir’s lawyers to present a comprehensive report on the application, and the progress made.
They also had to provide a progress report on the media application to sit in on the board’s judgment, and to try and determine exactly when that judgement would be given. - The Star