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Monday, 28 May, 2001, 22:38 GMT 23:38 UK
SA extradition ruled illegal
The burned out wreckage of the US embassy in Dar Es Salaam one day after the bomb explosion
The bomb attacks on the US embassies claimed 224 lives
The South African authorities acted illegally when they extradited a Tanzanian later found guilty of helping to bomb a US embassy in Africa, the South African Constitutional Court has ruled.

Khalfan Khamis Mohamed was handed over to the FBI and has been found guilty of helping carry out the bombing of the US embassy in Tanzania in 1998.

He now faces the death penalty, pending a second hearing to determine his punishment.

The immigration authorities failed to give any value to Mohamed's right... not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment

South African Constitutional Court
Capital punishment was abolished in South Africa after the country's first multi-racial elections in 1994.

Since then, suspects may not be extradited without assurances that they will not receive a death sentence, the court said.

Mr Mohamed, 27, was arrested in October 1999 in Cape Town.

He is one of four men found guilty in a federal court in New York on charges of helping to carry out attacks, allegedly masterminded by Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August 1998, which claimed 224 lives.

Khalfan Khamis Mohamed
Mr Mohamed: Accused of providing logistical support
"The handing over of Mohamed to the United States Government agents for removal by them to the United States was unlawful," the court said in its judgement.

"The immigration authorities failed to give any value to Mohamed's right to life, his right to have his human dignity respected and protected and his right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment," it said.

No influence

The court ordered that its decision be urgently sent to the US court where Mr Mohamed's trial was held.

But, speaking before Tuesday's verdict, an international legal expert based at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, said he doubted whether the Constitutional Court's ruling would have an influence on the outcome of the trial.

"Chances are very slim that the ruling would have an influence on the case," said Neville Botha, a professor in international law.

He said the United States applied a legal principle in which its courts were not bound by rulings outside its jurisdiction, and therefore would not be bound by a South African ruling.

Constitution upheld

Osama bin Laden
Bin Laden: Suspected of masterminding the attacks
Mr Mohamed's lawyer, Jerome Ramages, was quoted as saying the judgment showed that "South Africa upholds its constitution even if the government does not comply with these laws".

Mr Mohamed has sued South African President Thabo Mbeki and several other government ministers for wrongful extradition.

The lawsuit also seeks to force Pretoria to ask Washington not to impose the death penalty on Mohamed.

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See also:

06 Feb 01 | Americas
Embassy bombing trial 'unfair'
06 Feb 01 | Americas
Witness reveals bin Laden threats
13 Feb 01 | Americas
Bin Laden witness back in court
21 Dec 00 | Americas
New embassy bomb suspects charged
17 May 00 | Americas
Clinton accuses bin Laden
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Who is Osama bin Laden?
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