14 December 2017

South Africa: Warlord Assassin, Arms Dealer and a Mafioso - International Fugitives Who Settled in SA

Photo: Daily Trust
(file photo)

A Dutch arms dealer, who stayed in a R90m home in an upmarket Cape Town suburb, has been added to the list of international criminals - mostly fugitives of justice - who have made South Africa their home.

Over the years it has emerged that convicted criminals, including an assassin of a Serbian warlord who slipped into South Africa under a different name, have been living in the country.

In the latest case, Augustinus Petrus Kouwenhoven, 75, was arrested in Fresnaye last Friday.

He is wanted in the Netherlands where he faces a 19-year-jail sentence for crimes against humanity and for selling firearms to former Liberian president Charles Taylor.

Kouwenhoven, who was granted temporary residency in South Africa in June 2017, denies he is a fugitive.

However, the State has a different view.

Kouwenhoven, who claimed he is seriously ill, believes his continued detention could prove fatal.

He is expected to hear on Tuesday whether he will be released from custody.

Internationally wanted fugitives investigated

It emerged during his bail application this week that an Interpol investigator, Warrant Officer Willem Jacobus van der Heever, looks into internationally wanted fugitives in South Africa. He is based in Pretoria and is a part of Interpol's extradition desk.

Kouwenhoven faces possible extradition to the Netherlands.

Another man facing extradition, who has appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court, is Lee Tucker, 53, who is wanted in the UK on 42 paedophilia-related charges.

He was arrested in March 2016 following a request from the UK.

Controversial Krejcir

Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir - at the centre of several court matters in South Africa and the mastermind behind several apparent prison escape attempts - is also facing extradition.

The Czech Republic wants Krejcir, who is jailed in Gauteng, extradited so he can be jailed for crimes including credit fraud and tax evasion.

He was sentenced in absentia for some of the charges five years ago.

Krejcir has faced several legal wrangles in South Africa.

In 2015 he was convicted in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg of attempted murder, kidnapping and dealing in drugs.

He was deeply involved with the criminal underworld in South Africa.

Murder exposes hidden identity

In another case involving the underworld and an international criminal, a murder led to this convict's true identity being revealed.

Dobrosav Gavric had been driving underworld figure Cyril Beeka when Beeka was killed in an assassination-style shooting in March 2011 near the University of the Western Cape. Gavric was wounded in the chest during the incident. At the time, he had been going under the name Sasa Kovacevic.

Gavric is wanted in Serbia, where he faces a 35-year jail sentence for murdering two people and assassinating Serbia's most feared warlord, Zeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan. He has denied he killed them.

Gavric eventually handed himself over to the Hawks after being discharged from hospital following Beeka's murder and after it became apparent South African authorities were aware of who he was.

By that stage, he had been in South Africa for about four years.

In a December 2011 affidavit he explained why he chose to come to South Africa.

'I thought I would be safe'

"I heard that it was a stable country with new opportunities. I wanted to build a new life and raise my children in a solid society," Gavric said.

"I thought me and my family would be safe."

In his affidavit, he said he applied for a business visa and, under his spouse's name, became involved in a restaurant in Johannesburg.

Gavric said he was introduced to Beeka in 2008.

"I regarded Cyril as a friend. I heard he was connected to the police and felt that, if there was ever a threat on me and my family I would be warned," his affidavit said.

Like Kouwenhoven, Gavric's affidavit said he believed, due to his medical background, that he was unfit to be detained.

Gavric remains jailed in South Africa.

Mafia links

Beeka's name was not only linked to Gavric, but also to Vito Palazzolo of Italy.

Palazzolo was for years based in South Africa. At one stage, he was based in Cape Town.

In 2009, an Italian court sentenced him in absentia to nine years' imprisonment for having an association with the Mafia.

He was arrested in Thailand in 2012 on an Interpol notice as he was trying to return to South Africa.

Palazzolo was extradited to Italy where he is in jail.

Source: News24

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