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Any detention of former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang over the hidden debts case upon his arrival in Maputo would be unconstitutional because the sitting deputy enjoys parliamentary immunity, two Mozambican lawyers have told Lusa.
South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha, decided on 21 May to authorise Manuel Chang’s extradition to Mozambique, in preference to acceding to the US extradition request which led to his detention in South Africa in December.
“Detaining Manuel Chang without him being stripped of his immunity as a deputy would easily be attacked with a writ of ‘habeas corpus’, because the Constitution of the Republic grants him this protection,” Mozambican lawyer Elísio de Sousa told Lusa.
For the former minister and current deputy in the bench of the ruling Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo) to be taken into custody, a plenary session of the Assembly of the Republic must first remove his immunity.
“One cannot see how may it be legal to detain someone who enjoys immunity, unless it’s a case of ‘flagrante delicto’ or unless the body empowered to lift his immunity does so,” de Sousa said.
Antonio Boene, another lawyer, also thinks that the constitutional requirements for Chang’s detention have not been met because he still enjoys a special status which has not yet been withdrawn.
“Without the constitutional and legally imposed requirements, the detention of deputy Manuel Chang would be illegal and invalid,” he said.
In order for the deputy to be handed over immediately to Mozambican courts, the plenary of the Assembly of the Republic would have to withdraw his immunity, at the request of the Supreme Court, through an action initiated by the Attorney General’s Office.
U.S. officials have already warned that they are seeking a revision of the decision by South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services because they want Manuel Chang to be tried in the United States for his role in the hidden debts.
Manuel Chang, 63, has been detained since December in South Africa, at the request of the United States, on suspicion of fraud and money laundering.Source: Lusa
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