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File photo: Lusa
South Africa’s current minister of justice, Ronald Lamola, had begun the repatriation of former Mozambican Minister Manuel Chang, in coordination with the International Police (Interpol) and the Mozambican authorities, the former minister’s lawyers said on Thursday.
“A month after the former minister [Michael Masutha] announced his decision, and two days after Mr. Chang’s submission to force the minister to deport him, on 27 June 2019, officials of the current minister informed Interpol and Mozambican authorities of the minister’s decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique and initiated proceedings to deport him,” Manuel Chang’s lawyers said, citing a statement by South African Interpol.
Manuel Chang has been detained since last December in South Africa, at the request of the US, in the case of so-called hidden debts.
“Under Article 13 of the SADC [Southern African Development Community] Protocol, this office informs Interpol Mozambique and also takes the necessary steps to initiate the deportation process [of Manuel Chang]. Please notify this office of the date and place where it will be handed over to the authorities,” says the note cited by Manuel Chang’s lawyers, adding that the former governor and his lawyers “have never been informed about deportation measures.
However, in its argument, the South African State, said that “the lack of formal communication from the South African authorities to the authorities in Mozambique, in light of Article 16(1) of the Extradition Law, means that the decision of the then Minister had not yet been implemented”.
“Implementation now falls to the authority of the current minister, as the relevant executive authority since his appointment on 29 May 2019,” the South African state said in its argument before the High Court of Gauteng in Johannesburg, which is reviewing the decision announced by Pretoria in May by then minister Michael Masutha to extradite Chang to Mozambique, not to the United States, which also claims deportation of the former minister of finance.
Manuel Chang’s lawyers also said that “the Mozambican judicial process is the only one that will actually prosecute Mr. Chang for corruption and embezzlement, while the American justice system is limited by lack of jurisdiction to do the same”.
Manuel Chang, 62, Mozambique’s former Finance Minister between 2005 and 2015, in the term of office of former President Armando Guebuza, is the subject of two competitive requests for his extradition from South Africa – the first from the United States of America (USA) and the second from the Republic of Mozambique.
On April 8, the Kempton Park Magistracy Court on the outskirts of Johannesburg ruled that Manuel Chang could be extradited to both countries.
The decision to extradite Manuel Chang to Mozambique or the U.S. is being considered by judges Colin Lamont, Edwin Molahl, Denise Fisher of the South African High Court, Gauteng Division, in Johannesburg.
“The collective is expected to give its verdict within a week or two due to the urgency of the case,” a South African source of justice told Lusa.
In addition to the States requesting the extradition of Manuel Chang, the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), a coalition of various interests of Mozambican civil society, also submitted a statement to the Superior Court of Gauteng requesting the extradition of the former governor to the United States.
The NGO Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF), admitted as an assistant in the case, also appealed in the same vein.
The Mozambican State was represented by a Johannesburg law firm.
Three prosecutors from the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Mozambique followed the two-day hearing of the Superior Court of Gauteng and declined to give statements to the press.
Following his appointment by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current Minister of Justice and Correctional Services of South Africa, Ronald Lamola, requested on 13 July to review the extradition of Manuel Chang to Mozambique, contrary to the decision of his predecessor, Michael Masutha, who announced on 21 May the repatriation of Manuel Chang to the detriment of the US claim of justice.
Since then, Manuel Chang has resigned as a Member of Parliament and has lost her immunity, announced the president of the Mozambican Parliament, Verónica Macamo, on 24 July.
The arrest and extradition request of Manuel Chang, by Washington, are related to his role in providing guarantees from the former Mozambican Government, chaired by former President Armando Guebuza, for funding of $2.2 billion (€2 billion) to create Mozambican state-owned companies Ematum, Proindicus and MAM, for maritime security and fishing, without the knowledge of parliament or the Administrative Court of Mozambique.Source: Lusa
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