criminal law


June 13, 2022



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Two brothers face South African jail from inside the UAE; how?

Authorities in Emirates and South Africa are co-ordinating over extradition of Atul and Rajesh following arrest by Dubai Police

Dubai Police arrested brothers Atul and Rajesh Gupta after Interpol issued a red notice against them for allegedly looting billions from state-owned companies in South Africa.

The two men were arrested on June 2 in line with an extradition agreement between the Emirates and South Africa.

The two nations signed an extradition treaty in 2018 following a lengthy dialogue. It was ratified in June last year.

But how do extradition procedures work? The National spoke to Dr. Hassan Elhais, a legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates, about the processes involved.

The firm has dealt with extradition cases from countries including Russia, the US, Germany, Pakistan, Romania and Argentina.

Closed court hearings

A special tribunal of three judges hears matters related to extradition in the UAE.

The decision of the special tribunal on extradition can be appealed before the Court of Cassation, the emirate's highest court. Typically, most extradition proceedings are held in private.

The process can take a few months and depends on whether the accused accepts the extradition request and the time taken by South Africa to share documents requested by the UAE.

Extradition process

The South African government would have sent a written request with an information docket in line with the treaty signed with the UAE.

Documents would include identity details, location and nationality of the persons, details of offences issued by judicial authorities in South Africa and a certified copy of the arrest warrant issued there.

Based on a red notice issued by Interpol to arrest the suspects in the UAE, the accused is arrested and brought before the UAE’s prosecution department.

The accused is then asked if he accepts the extradition request. If he complies, the extradition moves forward.

But if the suspect rejects the request, the UAE prosecution and courts weigh the information sent by South African authorities.

In case the documents provided are not sufficient, additional information will be sought and submitted by South Africa.

According to Article 3 of the extradition treaty between UAE and South Africa, extradition will be granted in specified cases that include if the action is an offence in both countries punishable with imprisonment for a year or more, if the offence relates to taxation, exchange control, customs or similar revenue matters.

Dr Elhais said the extradition treaty allows for property to be seized as part of the extradition process.

"In accordance with Article 15 of the extradition treaty signed between the UAE and South Africa, the UAE is entitled to seize all property, articles or documents that are found in the territory of the UAE which is connected with the offence for which extradition is sought," he said.

Bail amount

Bail can be granted in extradition cases, said Dr. Elhais.

"The prosecution has the discretion to sanction bail for the arrested person by accepting security for bail," Dr Elhais said.

This could be personal or financial security, may include surrender of passport or depositing of financial bonds.

The UAE prosecution has the right to reject a bail application.

Bail amounts can vary. There is no specific sum set and it is subject to the prosecution's discretion.

Other treaties

The UAE currently has extradition treaties with countries including the UK, India, Pakistan, China, France, Italy, South Africa, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, and Oman.

The Gupta brothers deny any wrongdoing and have fought the application of red notices issued by Interpol. They say they are the victims of a political witch hunt in South Africa.

The UAE's Ministry of Justice said the arrests were made in keeping with the extradition agreement with South Africa.

The ministry said the arrests “sent a clear statement” of the UAE’s efforts to combat financial crime.

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