UK fugitive fights extraditionAug 2, 2010 4:31 PM | By Sapa
A UK fugitive caught living the high life in South Africa has R1.5 million to "vigorously fight" any proceedings to deport or extradite him, the Cape Town Magistrate's Court hears.
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During a bid to get bail for Darren Michael Finch, his lawyer Brendan Atkins said his client had R1.5 million to fight both proceedings to deport or extradite him and for bail.
However, state advocate JC Gerber, said: "Whether he has R1.5 million or R10 million is irrelevant. He is in this country as an illegal foreigner, and as such has no right whatsoever to freedom of movement."
Finch, who used a false passport in the name of Mark Maine, was arrested at his rented home in Llandudno, a plush suburb on the Atlantic seaboard, where he had been living for 18 months with his wife and young children.
He fled to South Africa after his release on bail by the Leeds Magistrate's Court, where he faced charges of illegally importing and dealing in Class C medicines and money-laundering.
His presence as an illegal foreigner came to light after an application by the British authorities for his extradition back to the UK.
He was also found in possession of a second false passport, in the name of John Christopher Clarke.
Finch was charged with fraudulently obtaining a passport to travel in and out of South Africa under a false name. He faced a second charge of entering the country with a fraudulent passport and a third of illegally operating a business in Cape Town.
Atkins said Finch was facing three charges under the Immigration Act in South Africa, and that no one had ever been jailed for these violations.
He said Finch had recently been refused bail in the Cape Town Regional Court and that it had since transpired the application for bail should have been in the Wynberg District Court.
For this reason, the ruling of the Cape Town Regional Court, to refuse bail, was invalid, Atkins said.
But Gerber contended Finch was a serious flight risk and likely to escape to another country if released on bail.
"My client has no travel documents in his possession, and cannot travel to any other country," Atkins responded.
"We have a whole family standing together to support their father and husband. We are not dealing with just the accused, but a whole family, including young children."
Atkins said stringent bail conditions, including an order to report daily to the police, would prevent Finch from absconding.
Magistrate Grant Engel was expected to hand down judgment on the bail application on Thursday