Mozambique to withdraw immunity of ex-minister arrested in SA

Manuel Chang
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The Mozambican parliament will meet on Tuesday to withdraw immunity from lawmaker and former finance minister Manuel Chang, detained in South Africa since 29 December 2018, parliamentary sources said Friday. As a member of parliament, Chang has enjoyed automatic immunity thus far, but he is facing an extradition requests from both the US and Mozambican authorities on suspicion of financial misconduct.

“The President of parliament convened a special session of the Standing Committee on 29 January, to lift the immunity of Mr Chang,” an MP who requested anonymity told AFP. The request to withdraw his immunity was initiated by the Mozambican Attorney General’s Office and the Supreme Court in an effort to try to bring Chang to Mozambique.

The aid dependant country is in competition with the US court that intends to extradite him to stand trial in that country where he is accused of money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to wire fraud and conspiracy for security fraud. On Thursday, the public prosecutor in South Africa where Chang is currently detained told the court that Chang cannot be granted bail citing a high risk of escape.

“I am against the guarantee of bail to Mr Chang at this stage as he can escape,” prosecutor Elivera Dreyer told Kempton Park Magistrate Court outside Johannesburg. “Experience has taught us that it is very easy to obtain a false passport and other false documents to escape South Africa.” Dreyer added that Chang was “high risk” to escape and if bail were to be granted, “we will not find him for extradition to the US.”

The decision on Chang’s bail was postponed to January 31. His request for extradition to Mozambique is scheduled for 5 February.