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South Africa extradites former Mozambique finance minister

Mozambique has accused Chang of receiving $17 million in kickbacks in a scam which creamed off hundreds of millions.

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South Africa extradites former Mozambique finance minister
Manuel Chang, former finance minister of Mozambique, appears at the Kempton Park Magistrates court to fight extradition to the United states in Kempton Park, South Africa. - South Africa announced on May 21, 2019 its decision to extradite Manuel Chang to his Mozambique. (Photo by Wikus DE WET / AFP)

South Africa said Tuesday it would send home former Mozambique Finance Minister, Manuel Chang, who has been held since December on a US arrest warrant, to face corruption charges.

“I have decided that the accused, Mr. Manuel Chang, will be extradited to stand trial for his alleged offences in Mozambique,” South African Justice Minister, Michael Masutha said in a statement.

“I am satisfied that the interest of justice will be best served by acceding to the request by the Republic of Mozambique,” Masutha said.

Chang, 63, was arrested at Johannesburg airport in December at the request of US authorities over alleged involvement in fraudulent loans to Mozambique state firms worth $2 billion.

Mozambique has accused Chang of receiving $17 million in kickbacks in a scam which creamed off hundreds of millions.

In the US, Chang faces charges of conspiracy to commit electronic fraud, financial security violations and money laundering, and could be jailed for up to 45 years if found guilty.

The South African minister said he had noted that the US submitted its extradition request weeks before Mozambique’s one.

After weighing the relevant facts and taking into account the criteria contained in both the extradition treaties between the US and South Africa, and the southern African SADC regional bloc agreement on extradition, he said he had decided to send Chang back home.

US Assistant Secretary of State, Tibor Nagy in March said he expected Pretoria to honour an extradition accord it signed in 1999. 

‘Seriousness of alleged offence’ –

South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had indicated in February, however, that Chang would be handed to Maputo because it would be “the easiest thing for everybody”.

In reaching his decision, Masutha said he had taken into consideration that the alleged offence was committed whilst Chang was a cabinet minister in Mozambique and also his preference to face trial in his native country. 

The minister said he also took into account the “seriousness of the alleged offence” and the “onerous debt for Mozambique as a result of the alleged fraud”.

In Mozambique, Chang stands accused of abuse of position and function, violation of budget law, fraud, embezzlement, receiving bribes, money laundering and criminal association.

The charges against Chang relate to loans taken out by the government in Maputo when he was head of treasury between 2005 and 2015.

An independent audit found that a quarter of the loan amount was illicitly diverted.

The US alleges at least $200 million of the loans was spent on bribes and kick-backs.

Mozambique has arrested several other suspects linked to the scandal, including the son of ex-president Armando Guebuza, and senior intelligence officials.

In January, three former Credit Suisse workers were arrested in London and charged with helping to create $2 billion in maritime projects as a front.

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North Africa

Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapse

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted.” -Judicial source

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Jailed Egyptian ex-president Morsi dies after court collapsing
Ousted (now late) Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. Ahmed Omar / Anadolu Agency

Former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi died on Monday in a Cairo hospital after fainting during a session in court, judicial and security sources said.

“He was speaking before the judge for 20 minutes then became very animated and fainted. He was quickly rushed to the hospital where he later died,” a judicial source said.

The official Al-Ahram news website also reported the death of Morsi, who was Egypt’s first democratically elected president but spent just one turbulent year in office after the 2011 uprising before the army toppled him in July 2013.

While he was president, Morsi issued a temporary constitutional declaration that granted him unlimited powers and the power to legislate without judicial oversight or review of his acts as a pre-emptive move against the expected dissolution of the second constituent assembly by the Mubarak-era judges.

The new constitution that was then hastily finalised by the Islamist-dominated constitutional assembly, presented to the president, and scheduled for a referendum, before the Supreme Constitutional Court could rule on the constitutionality of the assembly, was described by independent press agencies not aligned with the regime as an “Islamist coup”.

This led to an uproar that contributed to his government being ousted by Abdelfatah Al-Sisi, the incumbent president.

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Africa News & Updates

Two paramilitary officers and a soldier killed in an ambush in Mali

The two paramilitary officers were killed on Sunday when an improvised explosive device blew up as they walked near the entrance of a military post

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Two paramilitary officers and a soldier killed in an ambush in Mali

Two Malian paramilitary officers were killed by a mine explosion outside a military base and a soldier died in an ambush in the north of the country, the armed forces said on Monday. Since French troops helped force out jihadists in 2013, parts of northern Mali remain out of control of security forces and violence has spread to other areas of the country.

The two paramilitary officers were killed on Sunday when an improvised explosive device blew up as they walked near the entrance of a military post in Sokolo in the central Segou region, Mali’s armed forces said on Twitter.

In a separate incident in the north, an army patrol escorting civilians was ambushed between Niafounke and Tonka, around 100 km south of Timbuktu, the army said. It said one soldier was killed and another wounded in the exchange.

Attacks in Mali are mostly in the north. But since 2015 violence has also hit the centre and south of the country. Along with militant attacks and militia violence, Mali also struggles with intercommunal and ethnic clashes.

Earlier this month, an attack on Sobane Da village in the centre of Mali killed 35 people in an ethnic Dogon enclave in the diverse Mopti region. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita appealed for calm after the attack sparked fears of a tit-for-tat cycle of ethnic killing.

Malian army bases are also often attacked. Eleven soldiers were killed in April by suspected jihadists who attacked a post in Guire in the centre of the country, and in March an assault on the Dioura military camp killed nearly 30 soldiers.

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Africa News & Updates

Key Bouteflika ally, Ali Haddad jailed for six months in Algeria

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed

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Ali Haddad, pro-Bouteflika businessman and main funders of Bouteflika's electoral campaigns is seen in a car after arrested

A key backer of Algeria’s former leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and one of the country’s top businessmen, Ali Haddad, was jailed for six months Monday for holding two passports, state television reported. Haddad was arrested in late March on the border with Tunisia, in possession of two passports and undeclared currency, days before Bouteflika resigned in the face of mass protests.

Haddad, who owns Algeria’s largest private construction company, is the first high-profile figure with ties to Bouteflika to be jailed since the president stepped down. He was found guilty of the “unjustified procurement of administrative documents” and also fined 50,000 dinars, state television reported.

Described by Forbes as one of Algeria’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Haddad is widely perceived to have used his links to Bouteflika to build his business empire. The businessman had denied breaking the law and said he obtained his second passport legally after seeking an interview with the then prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal.

The ex-premier and Haddad are among many businessmen and former politicians caught up in a separate anti-corruption investigation launched since the president stepped down. Earlier this month Haddad’s lawyer, Khaled Bourayou, decried a “political trial” and told journalists the passport case had no legal basis.

The sentence is significantly lower than the 18 months term and a fine of 100,000 dinars requested by the prosecutor. Hassane Boualem, then director of titles and secure documents at the interior ministry, was given a two-month suspended sentence and fined 20,000 for issuing Haddad’s second passport in 2016.

He told the court he was following the orders of his superiors – interior ministry head Hocine Mazouz, Sellal and Algeria’s current premier Noureddine Bedoui – who were not investigated over the affair.

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