Judge: Hingis should testify in alleged stalker's trial
Updated: Friday January 26, 2001 2:17 PM
MIAMI (AP) -- Tennis star Martina Hingis should testify in person against the man accused of stalking her at a South Florida tennis tournament last year, a judge has ruled.
Hingis, who wanted to testify by closed-circuit television or videotape, said in an affidavit that she didn't want to see Dubravko Rajcevic in the courtroom because he scares her "and I know that I would not be able to get his image out of my head."
But Circuit Judge Kevin Emas ordered prosecutors Thursday to try to bring Hingis to court to testify against Rajcevic, who is being held on $2 million bail on a charge of misdemeanor stalking.
He scheduled Rajcevic's trial to begin April 2, the day after Miami's Ericsson Open concludes, to make it easier for prosecutors to secure the Swiss national's presence.
Prosecutors did not immediately return calls Friday seeking comment, but Frank A. Abrams, Rajcevic's attorney, said his client has a right to confront his accusers and that an exception should not be made for Hingis. She is playing in the Australian Open and neither she nor her representatives could immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Rajcevic was arrested at last year's Ericsson after security personnel asked him to leave the tournament following a complaint by Hingis' mother. They told him not to come back.
He returned the next day, was arrested for stalking and released on $1,000 bail. Two days later, he was again arrested after being spotted at the tournament. His bail was upped to $2 million and he has been in custody ever since.
Abrams said his client, who is almost 30 years older than the 20-year-old Hingis, has made no threats, but sent Hingis only love letters and flowers.
Rajcevic, a Croatian-born engineer who is now an Australian citizen, traveled to about five tennis tournaments around the world where Hingis played, but he only yelled words of encouragement to her, Abrams said. To Abram's knowledge, Hingis never told him to leave her alone and would sometimes wave back when she saw him in the stands.
"Where is the malice?" Abrams said. "Under Florida law, for there to be stalking there has to be malice.
"In the history of mankind, men have pursued women and vice versa and, no matter how implausible, that pursuit shouldn't be sanctioned," Abrams said.
He has asked the Florida Supreme Court to lower Rajcevic's bail, which he says is a record amount for a misdemeanor case.
Court-appointed therapists have determined Rajcevic is probably schizophrenic and suffering from "fixed delusion."
Abrams said he could not speculate if authorities are concerned about his client because a crazed Steffi Graf fan stabbed Monica Seles in the back during a 1993 tournament in Germany.
At a hearing last year, Rajcevic was told he would be released from jail if he signed an order stating he would stay away from Hingis for two years, after which the charges would be dropped. He refused.
"Martina wouldn't want that," Rajcevic said then.