Windhoek - A French national arrested in Namibia and wanted in India for allegedly committing sexual acts with minor boys successfully appealed against his extradition on Thursday and was discharged from custody.
The 46-year-old man brought an urgent application in the Windhoek High Court last week asking it to set aside the extradition order handed down by the magistrate's court in September.
"The appeal of the appellant is upheld and the appellant is to be discharged forthwith," Judge Christie Liebenberg said in his ruling.
The successful appeal came about due to technicalities.
"None of the witness statements from India describing criminal conduct allegedly by the appellant, satisfy the requirements of evidence admissible in terms of Namibia's Extradition Act of 1996. Without such evidence there can be no prima facie case against the appellant and the appeal must succeed," Liebenberg said.
Documents produced by the government showed that translations of witnesses in India were not done by a sworn translator.
Other documents furnished by Indian authorities "were not properly authenticated or certified as provided for in Namibia's extradition law".
The case illustrated the difficulties a requesting country might encounter preparing extradition requests and not being familiar with Namibian laws and the "standard of proof required before the person could be extradited to a foreign country".
Liebenberg lamented that despite calls from the Supreme Court since 2006 "to the legislature to address this unfortunate situation" no progress had been made.
"The impression might be created that Namibia is a safe haven to criminals who have committed serious offences outside its borders and the chances of having them successfully extradited being remote."
The man's lawyer Sisa Namandje had argued his client could not be extradited to India as the formal extradition request and related documents from Indian authorities sent to Namibia were not properly authenticated.
He was arrested at Walvis Bay airport on June 20 after arriving on a flight from South Africa.
Airport officials noted on their computer system that Interpol had issued a "red alert" and that Indian police had a warrant of arrest for him.
He allegedly intended getting a job as a fisherman in Walvis Bay on a boat heading for Angola.
On 2 December 2013 the beach police in Puri, India, received a complaint from a former US military officer about his allegedly having had sex with minor boys a few days earlier on Penthakota beach.
According to the Indian Express newspaper, when police went to the man's hotel he had already left. Police issued a warrant of arrest on 17 January this year and contacted Interpol.