Court wrong to declare Agrizzi a flight risk: Lawyers

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Angelo Agrizzi’s lawyers say the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court was wrong to declare him a flight risk. They were in the High Court in Johannesburg for another bail bid of which judgment is now set down for Friday.

The Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, east of Johannesburg, turned down Agrizzi’s bail application more than a week ago, after the state argued that he would evade justice. But his lawyers disagree and want him to be released on R50 000 bail.

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Agrizzi is in facing a corruption charge dating back to when he was working for Bosasa. This relates to the payments made to former ANC MP Vincent Smith who is also on bail for fraud and corruption. But his critical health condition became the hallmark of his legal team’s argument at his bail hearing.

Bail appeal judgment to be handed down on Friday:

The former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on three forms of life support machines, chained to his hospital bed and heavily guarded by police. And his lawyer Advocate Mannie Wirtz said denying his client bail whilst in hospital under such conditions is detrimental to his health.

Agrizzi’s lawyer Advocate Mannie Wirtz argues, ” The man is on ventilators. He’s not conscious. He is chained to a bed. There are three people from the department inside his ward guarding him whilst regulations say two, but doctors can’t attend to him freely. There are three outside and three in the car park and life would be a lot easier if he was released on bail.”

But the State Advocate Arno Rossouw says Agrizzi’s deteriorating health cannot be used as an excuse insisting that they need full disclosure as Agrizzi misled the court about his off-shore assets at his earlier bail application.

State Advocate Arno Rossouw says, ”He tried to downplay his overseas assets. He refers to a B&B in Italy. He doesn’t talk about his vehicles. He doesn’t talk about his cash. Full disclosure from the appellant, in my mind, will constitute new facts. It’s not in the interest of the state to have an accused person dying in prison. It’s in the interest of justice for the appellant to come to court and face his day in court that is in the interest of justice. So, we have got no interest in keeping him there, if there is another way of ensuring that Mr Agrizzi attends until his matter is finalised.”

Agrizzi’s lawyer confirms he’s critically ill in hospital

But Advocate Wirtz said everything was above board insisting Agrizzi declared his assets with the South African Reserve Bank as required by law.

”Everything included in Colonel Lazorus’ affidavit was done in terms of the off-shore allowance. Everything was declared to the SARS. Surprisingly, when dealing with the matter, not one of iota of evidence is given by Colonel Lazorus to say this by the way I have changed my mind because I have seen the movement of assets overseas and I have seen financial transactions where it seems they have invested overseas. With the Reserve Bank approval, all you have was that the NPA wouldn’t bring a case if they think they don’t have a strong case. That is not sufficient. You require evidence on oath from the investigating officer to say these are the reasons why we say he is a flight risk, but with the utmost, respect there is none.”

While Agrizzi’s lawyers maintain the lower court erred in its judgement on denying him bail, he will be on chains and under police guard in the hospital until maybe Justice Mokgoatlheng decides otherwise on Friday.