UAE extradition treaty: Guptas could finally be forced to return to SA
SA and the United Arab Emirates ratified an extradition treaty, Minister Lamola confirmed.
Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola. Picture: Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Friday 11 June 2021 gave an update on South Africa’s extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This means the Guptas could be forced to return to South Africa.
Guptas in SA’s crosshairs
SA and UAE extraction treaty ratified
The United Arab Emirates confirmed the ratification of its extradition treaty after Interpol intervened in the execution of warrants of arrests for Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta, along with their family members.
During the press briefing on Friday, Minister Lamola said the extradition treaty will come into effect on 10 July 2021. Lamola said “South Africa has persons of interest who are believed to be in the UAE,” and added:
“It is worth mentioning that our request for mutual legal assistance to the UAE to date was not prohibited by the fact that there were no treaties enforced between the two states”.
Gupta extraction treaty signifies ‘new dawn’
Lamola said South Africa will continue to pursue its counterparts “through diplomatic channels in order to reach the desired levels of cooperation and enable our law enforcement agencies to bring to justice persons of interest in any investigation they are pursuing”.
“We remain committed to maintaining bilateral relations with the UAE, which has spanned a period of 20 years. It’s in the interest of both parties that these treaties are implemented”.
He says the treaty now signifies “a new dawn”, but states that the expectation of the treaty “is yet to be fulfilled”.
Promoting judicial cooperation
UAE ambassador to South Africa Mahash Alhameli on Wednesday confirmed the agreement to extradite the Guptas were ratified earlier this year in April.
In a statement, Alhameli said the agreements on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters and Extradition between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates were signed in 2018.
“These agreements have been and remain key to the UAE in promoting judicial and legal cooperation with South Africa and strengthening bilateral relations between law enforcement institutions and partners on both sides,” he said.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe