South Africa: Former Mozambique Finance Minister 'Shops' for Better Country to Be Extradited to

Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang appears in court during an extradition hearing in Johannesburg (file photo).

Former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang is "shopping" for a more lenient country to be extradited to, and seems to have settled on his home country over the US.

He said this through his advocate Willie Vermeulen, SC, in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court in Ekurhuleni, where Chang is fighting his extradition.

The former cabinet member was arrested on December 30, in terms of a US warrant of arrest, on "allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking millions of dollars in bribes in a $2bn loan scandal", News24 earlier this year.

Chang was on his way to Dubai when he was detained.

The Mozambican government's warrant of arrest for Chang, dated March 4, was cancelled by the court, as he was already detained.

"He prefers to be extradited to Mozambique, and it makes no sense to be tried in the US," Vermeulen said.

But State advocate JJ Du Toit, SC, hit back, saying Vermeulen was doing everything in his power to ensure that his client is sent to Mozambique, and that that desire should not be considered by the court.

"The client wants to dictate to the court where he wants to go.

"Every country should be given an equal opportunity to have their extradition request tested fairly with its merits, and not have them both heard at the same time" said Du Toit.

"But the minister (Justice Minister Michael Masutha) will not consider either application unless a ruling has been made by the court," Du Toit argued.

Chang wanted his extradition matters (to the US and Mozambique) to be heard concurrently.

Magistrate William Schoutte did not mince his words in his judgment, and said that the "law does not provide for a consolidated hearing into the extradition matter, and both matters should be heard separately, taking into considerations their merits".

"In my order, the court cannot order if both (extradition requests) should be consolidated into one proceeding.

"The application from the government of Mozambique should run separately from that of the USA."

Earlier on Thursday, a concerned group of NGOs from Mozambique applied to become friends of the court in support of Chang's extradition to the US, but the application was turned down by Schoutte.

It is now up to the court to determine whether Chang should be extradited or not.

From March 11, the court will begin to hear arguments from both the State and the defence as to whether the US' extradition request meets requirements set by the South African Constitution.

Once that process is completed and the magistrate has given a ruling, the Mozambican government's request will then be heard and also tested.

Both, either or neither of the requisitions could be granted or denied. Should both extradition requests be granted, then Masutha will have to make a decision as to which country Chang should be extradited to.

Source: News24

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