Former Mozambican finance minister's arrest was lawful - court

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

The Kempton Park Magistrate's Court has ruled that the arrest of Mozambique's former finance minister Manuel Chang at OR Tambo International Airport was lawful.

Chang was on his way to Dubai when he was arrested on December 30 at the airport in terms of a United States warrant of arrest.

Magistrate Sagra Subroyen said Chang's provisional arrest could be terminated in 60 days if the application for his extradition had not been lodged with supporting documents from the United States of America.

"That time has not lapsed... and, from the face of it, the warrant of arrest appears to be valid," said Subroyen on Wednesday. 

The magistrate postponed the case on Tuesday to peruse the state's and the defence team's arguments.

The US Justice Department claims that Chang and his alleged co-conspirators arranged more than $2bn in fraudulent loans from international investment banks to state entities, purportedly controlled by the Mozambican government.

Chang stands accused of conspiracy to commit wire and securities fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

READ: Arrested former Mozambican finance minister to continue fight against extradition to US

In court, Chang's lawyer Willie Vermeulen argued that his detention was unlawful and that his extradition, if carried out, would also be illegal.

Vermeulen continued to argue that the provisional arrest was not in line with the law, as the US had not formally requested Chang's extradition when he was arrested.

"The USA only requested Chang's provisional arrest pending their formal extradition request for him, and that itself was not an extradition request," Vermeulen submitted to court. 

Vermeulen said the process should be extradition first, then the warrant of arrest, and not the other way around.

Chang's legal team also argued that the US cannot instruct SA to extradite, without giving all evidence of the charges brought against their client.

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