Southern Africa: Former Mozambican Finance Minister Looks for Loopholes in SA Legal System to Get His Freedom

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in court in Johannesburg.

The former Mozambique minister of finance Manuel Chang plans to fight tooth and nail against his extradition to the United States, and what he calls his "illegal detention" by South African authorities.

He is expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrates court on Thursday for the third consecutive day where Chang's legal team is set to challenge the commencement of his bail application, arguing that that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) should first draw up charges, and then set a schedule of offenses.

The state would like the bail hearing to be heard as a schedule 5 offense, and said that is the offense type Chang was likely to face, should he have committed a crime in South Africa.

The former minister was on his way to Dubai when he was arrested by Interpol on December 30 at the airport in terms of a US warrant of arrest.

The US Justice Department claims that Chang and his alleged co-conspirators arranged more than $2bn in fraudulent loans from international investment banks to state entities, purportedly controlled by the Mozambican government.

Chang stands accused of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The former cabinet member's lawyer, Willie Vermeulen, argued that if the NPA is not charging his client, then his detention and arrest would be illegal.

That is despite the court having affirmed the arrest on Wednesday, with Magistrate Sagra Subroyen ruling that the warrant of arrest for Chang from the US was "on the face of it valid", and therefore the arrest was lawful.

Vermeulen also argued that a suspect cannot be arrested before a request for extradition has been submitted, and that it actually works the other way round - extradition application first, then arrest.

He further argued that Common Law should apply in Chang's bail application, and asked that the Criminal Procedure Act be set aside.

"Our client cannot have his bail heard under any schedule of offense, because there aren't any charges brought by the State".

At the same time, Chang has won just one battle, which is getting an single cell, seemingly for his protection.

The former minister submitted to court that he has been sharing a common cell at the Modder B Prison with over 20 people under "inhumane" circumstances.

He said that he had to pay "a cell leader" protection money for his safety.

The prosecutor did not object, and facilitated the process to have Chang get his own cell.

Source: News24

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