Child Molestation Suspect Waits for Extradition Ruling

A FRENCHMAN wanted in India on child molestation charges will hear on 4 September if a magistrate has given the green light to the Minister of Justice for his extradition from Namibia to India.

French citizen Mathieu Nicolas Furic’s extradition hearing took place before Magistrate Cosmos Endjala in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court in Katutura yesterday.

Magistrate Endjala reserved his ruling on the Indian authorities’ request for Furic’s extradition from Namibia after hearing oral arguments from State aocate Simba Nduna and Furic’s lawyer, Petrus Elago.

The magistrate said he would try to have his ruling ready to be delivered by 4 September.

Furic (46), who was arrested at Walvis Bay on 20 June, after he had arrived in Namibia with a flight that came from Johannesburg in South Africa, is remaining in custody while awaiting the magistrate’s ruling.

With Furic’s arrival at the Walvis Bay Airport it was noticed on a computer system that Interpol had listed him as a wanted person, as a result of a warrant for his arrest that had been issued in India.

The warrant for his arrest was issued in Puri, which is a coastal city in the Indian state of Odisha (Orissa), on 17 January.

The Indian authorities’ request for Furic’s extradition from Namibia consists of a collection of documents, including witness statements, that have been submitted to Magistrate Endjala. One of the statements was made by an American citizen who reported to the Indian police at Puri on 2 December last year 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 are also included in the documents placed before the magistrate.

Nduna argued yesterday that the documentation provided to the magistrate showed that there was enough evidence to justify the prosecution that Furic is facing in India. The charges on which he is wanted in India are in respect of offences that would have also been crimes if it had been committed in Namibia, which is one of the key requirements for an extradition set in Namibia’s Extradition Act, Nduna argued.

He asked the magistrate to make an order for Furic to be detained in prison until the Minister of Justice has decided whether to order that he should be sent to India to face the charges.

Elago argued that the child witnesses’ statements included in the extradition request cannot be accepted by the magistrate, since the witnesses’ original statements were made in another language, then translated into English, and it was not stated that the statements in English were sworn translations of the original statements. The Extradition Act requires sworn translations in English of documents that were originally drawn up in another language.

He also argued that most of the official stamps placed on the documents comprising the extradition request were not clear and readable, with the result that it could not be established in what capacity the people who had placed the stamps of the documents had acted.

Elago further argued that in none of the documents before the magistrate could it be stated with certainty that Furic was indeed the person who committed the alleged offences that led to India’s extradition request. One of the witnesses described the perpetrator of the alleged sexual acts with the children as having been about two metres tall, while Furic is actually 1,78 m tall, Elago pointed out.

He asked the magistrate to make an order that Furic should be released from custody.

Source : The Namibian