Mozambique: Johannesburg to decide Chang’s fate in December - report
FILE: Manuel Chang. [File photo: Lusa]
The South African lawyer representing the Mozambican state in the extradition process of former finance minister and Frelimo deputy said on Friday that Manuel Chang’s immunity was “no longer a factor” in the process.
“There have been new developments and the issue surrounding the case is that the former minister made a decision when Mr Chang had immunity, but we know that he resigned [from his seat in Parliament], which means that the issue of immunity is no longer a factor,” Sami Modiba told Lusa.
“That will have to be taken into account and the [current] minister will have to decide on the basis of new developments,” he said.
The lawyer, from Mabunda Attorneys in Johannesburg said he represented the Attorney General of the Republic of Mozambique (PGR), Beatriz Buchili, appointed in July 2014 by President Armando Guebuza about months before the end of his second and last term as head of state.
Asked by Lusa about Manuel Chang’s current immunity status in Mozambique, the South African lawyer said: “Well, he resigned, and that fact is in the court records, which you can check. If that is not sufficient as fact, then I don’t know what else can attest to that.”
Manuel Chang, who has been a senior figure in the party that has held power in Mozambique since independence in 1975, resigned as a Member of the Assembly of the Republic and thus lost his inherent immunity, Mozambican parliamentary president Verónica Macamo said in Maputo on July 24.
The South African state however maintains that Chang’s immunity “still persists” as an impediment to prosecution in Mozambique over the hidden debts matter, attorney for the South African state Johan van Schalkwyk told Lusa on October 16.
As to the position of the Government of Mozambique on Chang’s extradition process, which has now been running for about a year in the South African justice system, Modiba stated: “I do not know what the Government’s position, is because I represent the Republic,” adding: “The purpose of the intervention before the Court was that any state would want to ensure that it was given the opportunity to prosecute its own citizens.”
Urged by Lusa to clarify whether Mozambique would guarantee the prosecution of its former finance minister for fraud and corruption in the case of hidden debts, Modiba questioned: “What does guarantee mean?”
“There is a case, you go there [to Mozambique], examine the records and check that there is a case and there are people who have already been indicted in the process, so there is a [court] case,” he said.
However, the South African lawyer representing the Mozambique attorney general did not specify whether or when Manuel Chang might be indicted for fraud and corruption in Mozambique or when his trial might be scheduled.
Modiba also declined to comment on whether the Mozambican state will appeal the ruling announced by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, referring the ruling to his firm’s “client.”
Mozambique and South Africa do not have an extradition treaty, while Pretoria and the United States do, and in light of the regional SADC (Southern African Development Community) Extradition Protocol, the extradition of persons accused of crimes among member states may be refused.
“If the person whose extradition is requested has, under the law of each state, acquired immunity to be prosecuted or punished for any reason, including prescription or amnesty,” Judge Denise J. Fisher said today, reading the new judicial decision.
South Africa’s High Court on Friday ordered President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to rule on the extradition of Mozambique’s former finance minister, Judge Fisher ordering current South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to determine whether Manuel Chang should be extradited to his own country or the United States.
Manuel Chang has been detained in South Africa since December 29, 2018, at the request of the United States, which want him to stand trial in the US for fraud, corruption and money laundering in a case involving an alleged US$2.2 billion international scam.Source: Lusa
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