WINDHOEK (Reuters) - Fugitive U.S. millionaire Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, who has made political connections and pledged to invest millions of dollars in Namibia, secured another delay in his extradition hearing on Monday.
Alexander, 55, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, was quiet as his lawyer successfully argued the former Comverse Technology Inc. executive had a constitutional right to challenge which judge should hear his case.
His attorney seemed confident that he would have time to make his case, despite U.S. pressure for his extradition.
“It is extremely unlikely that the Kobi Alexander extradition case would take place before the end of this year,” said Louis du Pisani.
The case was postponed to November 12 by mutual agreement.
Alexander is wanted in the United States on multiple counts in connection with an alleged scheme to backdate millions of executive stock options at Comverse Technology Inc.
Defense lawyers argue that Petrus Unengu, who was appointed by Namibia’s justice minister to hear the extradition, be removed from the case because his appointment threatened Alexander’s right to a fair trial.
The defense wants Uaatjo Uanivi, the magistrate who freed the Israeli-born Alexander on bail of $1.4 million -- among the highest in Namibia’s history -- last October, to oversee the hearing.
He has fought extradition since his arrest last year.
Repeated delays in the case have prompted Alexander’s critics to accuse him of trying to buy support in Namibia and avoid extradition by funding aid projects and making promises of future investments.
Alexander, the founder and former chief executive of New York-based Comverse has kept a high profile in Namibia, where he has pledged to invest $14 million in businesses and charitable projects through his Kobi Alexander Enterprises venture.
His lawyers testified in a bail hearing that Alexander had transferred several million dollars to Namibia, bought a home and a new SUV, enrolled his children at a local private school and invested in politically well-connected businesses.
His neighbors have praised his family, who live on a golf estate, and said they had been attending services at the local synagogue in his gated community, located about 200 meters (656 ft) from the nearest airstrip.
Namibia’s government has described Alexander as “very passionate” about the country and its 2.1 million people.
Du Pisani denied allegations that his client was taking advantage of the Namibian legal system, which has poor resources. He said legal obstacles were the Namibian government’s own making.
“We’re just here to ensure that Mr. Alexander receives a free and fair trial like anyone else,” he said.