Radovan Krejcir seen here in a bail application in 2014. In the latest of a series of appeals this week, he won a bid for better prison conditions. File picture: Antoine de Ras/ANA

Johannesburg - Radovan Krejcir has been given access to visitors, immediate medical treatment, privileged consultations with his lawyers, exercise and the opportunity to apply to study law next year.

The drastic improvement in the Czech fugitive's prison conditions came about after he managed to convince Judge Ingrid Opperman at the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday that he was being kept under “cruel and inhumane” conditions. Krejcir has been in custody for about four years since his first conviction in August 2015 for drug dealing and kidnapping, which resulted in an effective prison sentence of 35 years.

However, over the past two years he has claimed he is being tortured in prison through de facto solitary confinement, an inability to access his court documents and medical attention and most recently being deprived of basic amenities. To date he has launched more than a dozen applications at numerous courts, through a series of legal representatives, with varying degrees of success. But after a series of legal payment disputes - reportedly due to an inability to bring money into the country from the Czech Republic - he has been forced to represent himself in most of his criminal and civil cases.

Radovan Krejcir: The boss, the driver, and the loan

Perhaps in a bid to represent himself more effectively in court in the future, Krejcir has informed the Department of Justice and Correctional Services that he wishes to register for a law degree at Unisa next year. On Thursday Krejcir, who has been placed under heavy observation after alleged plots to escape from police custody, appeared in court with his usual R5-wielding security contingent. Instead of sitting in the dock, he argued his case in the section assigned for legal representatives. For the past two months, Krejcir has been preparing his urgent application with the assistance of candidate attorney for FJ Cohen Attorneys, Jeff Mendelson, who drafted his paperwork.

Together, Krejcir and Mendelson put together a massive portfolio which described in detail the fugitive's "inhumane" treatment in prison.

Krejcir's complaints included being kept away from all other prisoners for a period of over 230 days and being denied access to a urologist for a serious medical condition, as well as to an orthopaedic surgeon, psychiatrist and general physician.

He told the court that between July and August he was given only two showers and the remainder of the time provided with a bucket of water.

He went on to complain that he had been prevented from writing letters to his family and using library facilities, gym facilities,and recreational activities in the section of Leeuwkop Prison where he is currently incarcerated.

There was a long delay before Krejcir's urgent application was made in court because the State and Krejcir requested reports from four psychologists, which showed that his continued mental deterioration was due to the nature of his current incarceration.

On Thursday, Judge Opperman agreed that the conditions of Krejcir’s incarceration were inhumane and ruled that he was entitled to be kept among at least four other prisoners in his unit and have access to all his legal documents across his various cases. The judge also ordered that Krejcir should have access to medical professionals as he requested as well as an educationalist to assist him to make his application to study for a law degree at Unisa.

He was also granted the right to non-contact visits, purchases from the prison kiosk, privileged consultations with his legal team, music, exercise, library facilities, a photo album, letters and cards from his family, access to rehabilitation programmes and visits to the prison chaplain, among other basic prisoner rights.

His attempts to gain access to Skype in order to make video calls to his family were not successful, however.

The return of confiscated items from his cell and the prevention of a transfer to another prison were subsequently also denied.

Candidate attorney Jeff Mendelson was delighted with the successful outcome. He said the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court, where Krejcir has appeared for his extradition case, has also endorsed the ruling.

Meanwhile, Krejcir’s murder trial for the alleged killing of suspected Bedfordview drug Kingpin, Sam Issa, continues later this month.

Saturday Star