Runaway businessman Radovan Krejcir bails out

Radovan Krejcir, photo: CTK

The case of the fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir has taken a new course after a court in Johannesburg, South Africa, ruled on Friday that Mr Krejcir be released on bail of over three million Czech crowns. He is to remain in South Africa until he returns to the court in August.

Radovan Krejcir,  photo: CTK
The long awaited court session turned out well on Friday for the Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir. In the Czech Republic, he is wanted for a number frauds and conspiracy to murder but a court in Johannesburg, ruling on whether Mr Krejcir should be extradited to his homeland, released him on bail until the next session in August. The visibly relieved Mr Krejcir paid his bail of over three million crowns, said he was impressed by the South African judicial system, and walked away. Khethiwe Mabena, a journalist for the South African daily The Times, who was present in the courtroom, says the judge questioned the motifs of the Czech prosecution as well as the length of the whole process.

"He believed that Mr Krejcir was not running away from the Czech Republic from prosecution. He believes that there was a conspiracy behind the charges that were brought against him and he said some of the charges date back to 1999 and that Krejcir was not charged with these charges, and why do they want him now."

Radovan Krejcir has been on the run ever since his spectacular escape from his own Prague villa two years ago. He ran away when the house was being searched by the police, which cost the Czech police president his chair. It turned out later that he left the country, reunited with his family and together left for the Seychelles. In February 2007, however, an extradition treaty was signed between the Seychelles and the Czech Republic, and Mr Krejcir found himself on the move once again. The judge of the Kempton Park Magistrates Court in Johannesburg, says Khethiwe Mabena, had a different opinion as for the reasons that brought Mr Krejcir to South Africa.

"He said that the reason why Krejcir had run away from the Seychelles into South Africa was that he wanted to settle in South Africa, and then when Krejcir got here, he bought some businesses and a house and a car. The magistrate said that he saw a conspiracy because the Seychelles does not have extradition right. It is not a country that can extradite someone, but they had completed an extradition treaty with the Czech Republic to extradite Krejcir."

The Czech Ministry of Justice says they cannot comment on a ruling by an independent court of a sovereign country, but Zuzana Kuncova, the ministry spokeswoman, blames the past government for the delays in prosecuting Mr Krejcir.

"If the court says the proceedings take too long, I would like to point out that the current Ministry of Justice is dealing with a problem that originated during the term of the last government when Radovan Krejcir escaped during a house search. If this had not happened, we would not have to be dealing with this."

Whoever's fault it was that the proceedings took so long and the whole legal matter loses credibility abroad, we will have to wait until August 8 to see if Mr Krejcir will face trial in the Czech Republic or continue his business career in South Africa.