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By Gareth Cotterell

Digital Editor


SA’s request to extradite Gupta brothers from UAE fails

NPA head Shamila Batohi said the reason for the UAE’s refusal to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta “does not make sense”.


Justice Minister Ronald Lamola on Friday said his department has learned with “shock and dismay” that South Africa’s application to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been unsuccessful.

Gupta brothers extradition request denied

Lamola said his department will appeal the decision and will continue to engage with authorities in the UAE over the matter.

He also said the Gupta brothers had appeared in an extradition hearing in February. The South African government, however, was only told about this on Thursday.

ALSO READ: Gupta brothers, who are meant to be detained in UAE, reportedly seen in Switzerland

The delay in being informed about this decision “is very concerning”, said the NPA’s National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi.

Batohi said the extradition request was denied based on a technical aspect regarding a cancelled warrant of arrest.

“The initial warrant of arrests did not list all the charges. When extradition was sought, new charges were added to make sure all of the charges were included,” said Batohi.

“The fact that the UAE has used this as a reason for denying the application is confusing and, in our opinion, does not make sense.”

‘Extradition treaty must be honoured’

Lamola said South Africa should have been afforded the opportunity to give it opinions around the extradition hearing.

“We believe the extradition treaty must be honoured,” he said.

Batohi added that all the technical issues were very carefully followed throughout the extradition request, with the help of extradition experts and authorities in the UAE.

“To assume legal process was not followed correctly is absolutely incorrect,” said Batohi.

Lamola said officials in the UAE had confirmed “all our papers were in order”.

If there were issues with South Africa’s warrant, the authorities in the UAE would have been obliged to provide clarity on this, he said.

Red notices

Batohi said that the red notices previously issued by Interpol for the Gupta brothers have now lapsed after the extradition process was denied.

She said a new process to issue red notices will need to be launched.

Vanuatu citizenship

It was also revealed on Friday that the UAE report indicated that the Gupta brothers have gained citizenship of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

If the Gupta brothers are in Vanuatu, an extradition agreement will need to be signed between South Africa and the Pacific nation.

This comes after a report on Thursday Rajesh and Atul Gupta were seen in Switzerland in March.

Africa Intelligence also claimed the brothers have used their South African passports to travel via a private jet to the Central African Republic (CAR) to seek asylum.

The director general at the Department of Justice, Doctor Mashabane, said South Africa has not received information from other countries about Guptas seeking asylum in those countries.

Appeal

Batohi said South Africa was “completely at the mercy of the state, the UAE” with the extradition decision.

Mashabane, however, was hopeful that the ruling could be appealed.

He said although South Africa has never had to go through this process before, other international cases had seen appeal courts reverse decision of the lower courts in similar cases.