Krejcir on hunger strike over more security
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Johannesburg - Radovan Krejcir has embarked on a hunger strike in protest against his prison conditions, and is set to launch an application in the high court in Pretoria to have them improved.
This came to light on Wednesday at the high court in Johannesburg during another set of proceedings in which he and his four co-accused have been charged with the murder of alleged drug kingpin Sam Issa.
Krejcir’s lawyer Frank Cohen, told the court his client hadn’t eaten since Monday, and that security around him has increased to the point where he was watched while he was sleeping or using the toilet.
Earlier this week the Daily News's sister paper, The Star, revealed that police had stepped up security after yet another escape plot allegedly planned by the Czech fugitive that would’ve involved mercenaries trying to break him out.
Krejcir has since been transferred to another prison and is being monitored by South Africa’s top counter-terrorism unit, the Special Task Force.
The extreme security has meant that Cohen has struggled to properly consult his client. He told the court that when he visited Krejcir at his new prison this week, he was not allowed to bring in or out documentation that would assist his client’s case.
He was also witness to Krejcir being told he was not allowed to speak in Czech to his relatives overseas, meaning that attempts to resolve his legal fee issues had been unsuccessful.
“This is not a prosecution, this is a persecution,” said Cohen.
Earlier this week, the lawyer told the same court that a new attorney couldn’t be appointed without approval from Krejcir’s sponsors, in other words, his mother, Nadezda Krejcirova. But she doesn’t speak English and Krejcir had to go through a third party – his daughter-in-law – to communicate his request for more money for legal fees.
Cohen requested another postponement to resolve the funding issue.
However, prosecutor Lawrence Gcaba accused Krejcir of using the alleged language barrier as yet another reason to delay the trial, saying that if further postponements were granted, new delaying tactics would be employed.
Judge Winston Mihloti Msimeki asked Gcaba to ask prison authorities to allow Krejcir to speak directly to his mother, and allowed a short postponement of the proceedings to Monday.
However, one of Krejcir’s co-accused, Siboniso Miya, has also scuppered proceedings yesterday after asking his attorney, Sinen Mnguni, to withdraw. Mnguni and his advocate, Annelene van den Heever, both pulled out of the case, meaning Miya will have to find new representation.
In yet another development, another prison warder was charged alongside Krejcir in a separate case where he is accused of an escape plot from Zonderwater prison.
The warder, David Sibeko, appeared yesterday in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, while another warder was to be charged with the same crime on Thursday.