Frenchman Appeals Against Extradition

THE extradition of French citizen Mathieu Nicolas Furic, who is wanted in India in connection with child molestation charges, will now depend on two judges of the Windhoek High Court, who yesterday heard an appeal through which Furic is trying to avoid being sent to India to face a criminal trial.

Furic’s lawyer, Sisa Namandje, argued before Judges Naomi Shivute and Christie Liebenberg yesterday that the Indian government’s request to Namibia for Furic’s extradition to India was defective. Namandje asked the two judges to overturn the order in which Magistrate Cosmos Endjala directed on 4 September that Furic should be kept in custody in Namibia to await a decision of the Minister of Justice to order his return to India.

The two judges reserved their judgement on Furic’s appeal against the magistrate’s finding that he can be extradited after hearing oral arguments from Namandje and State aocate Simba Nduna. Judge Liebenberg said he would try to have the court’s judgement on Furic’s appeal ready by the end of next week.

Furic (46) has been in custody in Namibia since 20 June, which was when he was arrested after he had arrived at Walvis Bay Airport on a flight from South Africa.

Furic was supposed to travel on from Walvis Bay to Angola, where he reportedly was due to take up a job on a fishing vessel, but was arrested after it was noticed on a computer system at the airport that Interpol had listed him as a wanted person. The Interpol ‘red notice’, which functions like an international arrest warrant, was circulated as a result of a warrant for Furic’s arrest that had been issued in India on 17 January this year.

The Indian arrest warrant was issued about a month and a half after an American citizen had reported to the police in the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa) that he had seen a foreigner engaging in sexual activities with children a week earlier.

The American claimed that he confronted the foreigner, who then grabbed him by the throat, and that he managed to get hold of the suspected sex tourist’s airline boarding pass from a bag that the man had with him. Furic’s name was on the boarding pass.

Witness statements from two boys – aged 12 and 13 respectively – who claim that a “foreigner” had given them money in return for engaging in a sexual act with him were included in the documentation that formed part of the Indian authorities’ extradition request.

In his ruling at the end of an extradition enquiry in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura, Magistrate Endjala said he was satisfied that all of the documentation that the Indian authorities submitted to their Namibian counterparts as part of their extradition request was on the face of it in order in terms of Namibia’s Extradition Act. The magistrate added that the evidence presented to him was sufficient to justify putting Furic on trial, that Furic was the person named in India’s extradition request, that Furic allegedly committed an offence for which he could be extradited from Namibia, and that there would have been sufficient grounds to put him on trial in Namibia if the alleged offences had been committed locally.

However, Namandje argued yesterday that the documentation comprising the Indian extradition request did not prove that Furic was the person who was wanted in India.

He also argued that documents in the extradition request were not authenticated or certified as required in terms of the Extradition Act, and that some of the supposed witness statements that the Indian government forwarded to the Namibian authorities were not made under oath, which is also a requirement under the Extradition Act.

The magistrate should not have been satisfied that the extradition of Furic had been requested in accordance with the Extradition Act, Namandje argued.

Nduna argued that the documentation before the court showed beyond doubt that Furic was indeed the person being sought in India.

The documents making up the extradition request bear indications of certification, Nduna also argued, before he asked the court not to put form over substance if there were some technical shortcomings in the extradition request.

It should be recognised that the purpose of extradition proceedings is to curtail the ability of a person who committed an extraditable offence to escape the consequences of his actions, Nduna said.

The court ordered that Furic should remain in custody pending the delivery of the appeal judgement.

Source : The Namibian