Czech fugitive Krejčíř arrested in South Africa for armed robbery
Radovan Krejčíř’s arrest on armed robbery charges comes two months ahead of his trial for having ‘faked cancer’ to get insurance money
A Czech fugitive and reputed major figure in South Africa’s criminal underworld, due to go on trial for insurance fraud in April, has been arrested on another set of charges — assisting in an armed robbery in Pretoria last year, local media reported.
Lashing out at police for their “cowboy-style tactics” for the arrest on Sunday of Radovan Krejčíř and two of his friends, Veselin Laganin and Jason Dominguez, his attorney Piet Du Plessis said the Czech entrepeneur had been arrested for an incident in which he was an “innocent bystander,” Pretoria News said.
‘Hit lists,’ faking cancerKrejčíř’s arrest on charges of armed robbery and scheduled appearance on Monday in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court comes just two months before he is due to face trial at Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court for allegedly defrauding the insurance group Liberty Life Holdings of 4.5 million rands (Kč 11.5 million) after faking cancer and receiving the money as a pay-out on a life insurance policy.
The Czech businessman is also a person of interest in a number of unsolved murder cases in South Africa. The elite police unit known as the “Hawks” in March 2011 raided Krejčíř’s luxury villa in Johannesburg last March to arrest him on charges of fraud and murder.
Although he managed to escape during that raid (turning himself in a few days later), the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation discovered what they described as a “hit list” — the names of people Krejčíř allegedly wanted killed so they could not testify against him.
One person on the list had already been murdered: alleged mafia boss Cyril Beeka, a former associate of the Czech businessman. Also named were a state prosecutor (Riegal du Toit) and Krejčíř’s Slovak-born urologist, Dr Marian Tupy, who said that he had prepared the false documents his former client used to fake cancer in order to collect the insurance pay out. Dr Tupy also testified that Krejčíř admitted to having killed prominent German businessman Uwe Gemballa.
Political asylumTo avoid facing charges in his homeland of conspiracy to murder, counterfeiting, tax evasion, extortion and abduction, Krejčíř fled to the Seychelles in the summer of 2005 and in April 2007 gained entry to South Africa while travelling on a false passport. Police say he has since become a major player in organized crime.
Convicted in absentia on charges of tax fraud by the Prague Municipal Court and sentenced to six and a half years in prison, he is seeking political asylum in South Africa, claiming his life would be endangered if he returned to the Czech Republic.