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Johannesburg - A media application is delaying proceedings to determine Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir's asylum status, the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court heard on Thursday.
“The Mail & Guardian newspaper group brought an application in the high court for an order that the press be allowed to be present,” Krejcir said in an affidavit read by his lawyer Michael Hellens.
“I accordingly opposed the application, which was dismissed by the North Gauteng High Court (in Pretoria),” Hellens read.
The Mail & Guardian appealed against the judgment, which according to Krejcir's affidavit, was delaying proceedings and the board's outcome of his asylum status.
“In respect of issues surrounding the confidentiality..., it still might take some time before my appeal to the board is heard,” Hellens told the court.
Krejcir raised the matter to argue for the postponement of a hearing in which the State will seek an order for his extradition to his home country, where he faces a jail sentence.
He wanted the hearing stopped, pending the outcome of his appeal of his refugee status.
However, the State contended that Krejcir's refugee appeals process and the extradition hearing could run parallel.
It wanted the extradition hearing to start without delay.
“They are separate procedures, but can run parallel to one another. They are governed by distinct procedures,” prosecutor Ruan du Toit said.
Magistrate William Schutte reserved judgment on the matter.
He said he would hand down a decision on September 12 on whether Krejcir's application to postpone the start of the State's extradition hearing would be granted.
Hellens told the court his client believed there were “strong prospects of success” in his refugee status case before the Refugee Appeals Board.
The extradition process should not be started if the odds were “clearly” in Krejcir's favour.
“If I may be so bold to say that if the refugee status process works in our favour... (the State) will withdraw its application for extradition,” Hellens said.
He gave background to his client's asylum-seeking attempts since 2007.
“I'm personally a holder of a temporary refugee permit.... On September 5 I brought forth an application of asylum status.... It was rejected on October 7,” Krejcir said in his affidavit.
He started the process of appealing against the rejection in February, 2008, after he was arrested on arrival in South Africa on April 21, 2007.
The court also heard details of how Krejcir and his family made their way to South Africa when he fell out of favour with a Czech politician, after giving him a R20 million loan to fund his campaign to become prime minister in 2002.
“In the interest of political reforms and upliftment... I funded the elections of one Stanislav Gross, a candidate for the Social Democrats. The agreement was that I would lend Gross 60 million Czech crowns....”
Krejcir said Gross was subsequently appointed prime minister, but did not honour his word.
Krejcir was sentenced in the Czech Republic last year after being convicted in absentia of money-laundering. He faces an 11-year sentence if extradited.