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Lawyer and former Bar Association chairman Gilberto Correia. Photo: Lusa
The former chairman of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) Gilberto Correia yesterday expressed “perplexity” over the decision by the South African Minister of Justice and Correctional Services to authorise the extradition of former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang.
“I am perplexed that the South African Minister of Justice has taken a decision of this magnitude while in a government only allowed to handle ‘current affairs’, which is waiting for the formation of a new government after the elections,” Gilberto Correia told Lusa.
Correia said he found it surprising that Michael Masutha had ordered the extradition of Manuel Chang when, as part of a government on its way out, he should be confining himself to routine actions, as it is not even known if he will be part of the executive resulting from the May 8 general election in South Africa.
“For a minister, who we do not know will be reinstated or not, to take a decision of this magnitude seems surprising because, as part of an outgoing government, he should not make decisions of this magnitude, density and depth,” he insisted.
The former chairman of the Bar Association said that Mozambican justice was discredited and was not equipped to prosecute white-collar crime of the magnitude of that attributed to Manuel Chang.
“We are all in Mozambique, we are Mozambicans, and in my private career I have been working for 23 years [with justice], so I know this machine, and I do not believe in it. This is not a discredit based purely on perception,” he said.
Correia says that Mozambican justice’s interest in judging Manuel Chang and other figures implicated in the case of hidden debts may be more to do with electoral propaganda by the Mozambican Liberation Front (Frelimo), the ruling party.
“Justice should not digress around elections or revenge. The fact that Mozambican justice is discredited and tries to gain credibility in electoral years is worrying,” Correia said.
The South African Minister of Justice and Correctional Services ruled on Tuesday that Manuel Chang should be extradited to Mozambique and not the United States, whose courts intended to try the former finance minister for his role in the so-called ‘hidden debts’ scandal.
“I have decided that the accused, Mr. Manuel Chang, will be extradited to face trial for his alleged crimes in Mozambique,” Michael Masutha said in a statement released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Development.
Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang, three former Credit Suisse bankers and a Privinvest mediator were arrested in December at the request of a US court, whose investigation alleges that the US$2.2 billion (EUR 2 billion) financing operation to create the Mozambican public enterprises Ematum, Proindicus and MAM during the term of President Armando Guebuza was a front for corruption and money laundering.
In February, just after the US extradition request, several public figures were detained by Mozambican justice authorities – including people close to former Mozambican head of state Armando Guebuza – in a case which had been open since 2015 but had not previously resulted in any detentions.Source: Lusa
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