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Kobi extradition hearing resumes
The hearing into Israeli-born Jacob ‘Kobi’ Alexander’s application for the reviewing and setting aside the decision of the Ministry of Justice to have him extradited has started in the Windhoek High Court.
The former Chief Executive of Comverse Technology Inco is wanted in the United States to stand trial on 32 charges of alleged fraud and money laundering activities involving US$138 million (about N$1 billion). The US has on October 18, 2006 requested the Namibian Government to extradite Alexander to allow him to face trial in that country.
Namibia did initially not have any formal extradition arrangements in place with the US. The situation, however, changed in 2006 when President Hifikepunye Pohamba formalised ‘Proclamation 10’ as published in the Government Gazette, which on August 31, 2006 listed the US as one of the countries to which people might be extradited from Namibia under the Extradition Act.
Immediately thereafter, a provisional warrant for Alexander’s detention as requested by the US was signed by the Windhoek Magistrate Court. He was arrested in September 2006 but was released on bail a few days later.
Alexander wants an order declaring that Proclamation 10 of 2006 does not give the US the status of a country contemplated in the Extradition Act for the purposes of its request to have him extradited.
In the alternative, he wants Proclamation 10 of 2006 be declared inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. He also wants the reviewing and setting aside of the Government of Namibia’s decision to issue Proclamation 10 of 2006.
Peter Hodes of South Africa, who represented Alexander argued that the Proclamation 10 of 2006 was issued solely for the purpose of extraditing his client. According to him, Proclamation 10 of 2006 was specifically aimed at dealing with the US extradition request. He said such proclamation should not have been aimed at an individual as it would limit the freedom of such person.
Hodes said the proclamation was not motivated by any general concern about extradition relations between Namibia and US, but rather by the immediate pressure of facilitating and ensuring the extradition of Alexander.
In 2010, Alexander won an appeal declaring part of Namibia’s Extradition Act unconstitutional. The Windhoek High Court ruled that the Extradition Act in its present form may result in foreigners and Namibians being held in custody for years until their cases are disposed off by the Namibian legal system. Alexander is free on bail.