US request to extradite former Mozambican finance minister put on hold

2019-02-26 17:26
Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique, in the Kempton Park Magistrates court. (Wikus de Wet/AFP/Getty Images)

Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique, in the Kempton Park Magistrates court. (Wikus de Wet/AFP/Getty Images)

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The United States' request to extradite former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang has been postponed provisionally due to a concurrent request. 

This comes after revelations in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court on Tuesday that the government of Mozambique had made an additional extradition request. 

"Unfortunately, the extradition matter could not proceed due to an application brought forward by the defence seeking the court to stretch its mandate.

"We are here as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), acting under the instruction of the minister of justice, to bring the two requests before the court. It is up to the minister to decide which country he will be extradited to," NPA spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwana told the media at court.

READ: Former Mozambique finance minister Manuel Chang's bail denied

Chang was on his way to Dubai on December 30 when he was arrested at the airport, in terms of a US warrant of arrest, on "allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking millions of dollars in bribes in a $2bn loan scandal", News24 earlier reported.

Chang's legal team, led by advocate Willie Vermeulen, SC, argued that the State could not prioritise one matter over the other.

"The State has submitted one request and not the other. The magistrate should consider the fact that there are two applications, and make a finding," Vermeulen argued. 

The State argued that the extradition request from Mozambique, received on Friday last week, was "premature".

"The Mozambique application is premature and Mr Chang will get an opportunity for the Mozambique application to be held. 

"It is not our intention to infringe on that right. Let's wait for the appropriate time to deal with the application," advocate Johan Du Toit, SC, argued on behalf of the State. 

The State further proposed that the court should finalise the US extradition and arrange a further date for the second request.

Vermeulen, however, argued that both applications should be held in one court proceeding. 

Judgment on the issue of the concurrent extradition requests being heard separately or jointly is reserved, and the State and the defence have until March 5 to file their arguments. 

Chang remains in custody and will return to court on March 7.

Read more on:    manuel chang  |  mozambique  |  johannesburg  |  courts
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