Court dismisses Chang’s bid to have Masutha decide where he should be extradited to

A bid by Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang to have Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha decide which country he should be extradited to has been dismissed.

The former minister continues to fight his extradition to the US, saying he would prefer to be sent to his home country. He has argued that he will have better prospects of bail and a fair trial in Mozambique.

READ MORE: Mozambique ruling party grapples with state debt scandal

Chang was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport on December 30 on a warrant issued by authorities in the US, where he is wanted on allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking bribes in a $2-billion loan scandal.

Magistrate William Schutte said Masutha and his executive would not be in a position to make a decision about Chang’s future.

The court is expected to rule if any of the extradition applications from the US and Mozambique have been successful.

Schutte said, however, “Chang was not to be extradited if the requesting state(s) will prosecute him [on] the basis of race, belief, religion, nationality or different political opinion, and that that state should move in line with SA laws for the extradition to be granted”.

READ MORE: US ‘expects’ SA to hand over ex-Mozambique minister

In February, the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court chose to first deal with the US extradition and thereafter the Mozambique extradition upon a judgment on the US application.

Chang was previously denied bail, with Magistrate Sagra Subroyen ruling at the time that “his release would undermine South Africa’s criminal system”.

The court is not meant to determine whether Chang is guilty or not, but to consider if there was a reasonable chance of successful prosecution should he be extradited.

Two weeks ago, US Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy said, during a telephonic briefing, he expected South Africa to honour the extradition accord it signed in 1999.

“We have an extradition treaty with South Africa, we are very much expecting [that the extradition] will happen,” Nagy said.

Last month, however, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu suggested that Chang should be handed over to Mozambique to go on trial there.

The Kempton Park magistrate’s court is expected to hand down judgment on April 8 on the US application for extradition. — News24

Pelane Phakgadi
Pelane Phakgadi
Mid-Senior Reporter at NEWS24
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