Namibia: High Court Rules in Alexander's Favour
Government has complied with the High Court ruling, in effect concurring with fugitive Jacob Kobi Alexander's legal team, that a chief of Lower Court is a public ser-vant and not a magi-strate, hence a person occupying that office could not hear cases such as Alexander's extradition case.
Cabinet has now instructed the Ministry of Justice to delete the definition of the chief of Lower Court in the Magistrate Act and substitute it with the proper definition and expressions.
Alexander, wanted in the United States to face 33 criminal charges consisting mostly of counts of fraud, has been fighting extradition to the US since his arrest in Windhoek in September 2006.
Alexander's legal team has to date mounted a successful legal fight, that has been characterised by legal delaying tactics as well as a challenge that parts of the Extradition Act are not constitutional.
The biggest challenge, however, was when Alexander's legal team protested that the Chief of Lower Court, Petrus Unengu, could not hear the extradition case because he is a public ser-vant and not a magistrate. The legal team wanted the case to appear before Uaatjo Uanavi, the magistrate before whom the case was first heard and who granted the N$10 million bail to Alexander in October 2006.
The legal team argued that as a public servant, the chief of Lower Court could neither be nor regarded as independent. The case went before the High Court that ruled in favour of Alexander. The High Court ruled that the concept of judicial independence stands on two inseparable pillars of individual independence and institutional independence, which as such means complete liberty of individual judges and magistrates to hear and decide the cases that come before them.
At its 20th ordinary meeting on October 28, Cabinet, in principle, permitted the Ministry of Justice to make the required amendments. The amendments are "so as to delete the definition of chief of Lower Court to define the expression chief magistrate, to provide for the administrative head of the magistracy, to substitute the expression chief magistrate for the expression chief of Lower Court, wherever it occurs in certain legislation and to provide for incidental matters," a statement from Cabinet said.
It is alleged Alexander committed fraud while he was Chief Executive Officer of the New York-based Comverse Technology, a software and system company he co-founded in the 1980s. Alexander is alleged to have profited illegally through illegal stock option backdating schemes, earning himself nearly US$10 million in profits.
Original article posted here.