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Mon, Aug 21, 2023

San Remo Registered Global Express Seized in Zambia

Passengers Jailed; Zambian Government Impugned

On the afternoon of Sunday, 13 August 2023, a Bombardier Global Express, San Remo registration T7-WW, departed Cairo, Egypt, crossed the African interior, and landed at Zambia’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the Zambian capital city of Lusaka.

In addition to taking on fuel, the aircraft’s stop in Lusaka was undertaken for purpose of picking up a prominent South African businessman and conveying him, his entourage, and a security detail armed with fully-licensed handguns to the South African city of Johannesburg.

On Tuesday, 15 August, Egyptian news-outlets broke reports setting forth Zambian authorities had seized the aircraft, aboard which they allegedly discovered approximately $5.7-million (USD), 602 “suspected” gold bars massing some 127-kilograms (280-pounds), five firearms described as “pistols,” and 126-rounds of ammunition.

Zambia’s Drug Enforcement Commission subsequently issued a press release reading:

The Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) received information that a chartered aircraft carrying dangerous goods had landed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport on 13th August 2023 at 19:00 hours.

Acting on this information, the DEC together with officers from various Law Enforcement Agencies conducted an operation on Monday, 14th August 2023 at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport.

The operation resulted in a seizure of the following items:

  • USD $5,697,700
  • Five (05) pistols
  • Seven (07) magazines
  • 126 rounds ammunition
  • 602 pieces of suspected Gold weighing 127.2 kg.
  • Equipment for measuring gold

The Commission has since seized the Global Express T7-WW on which the above items were found and another aircraft belonging to a local airline whose make is King Air B190.

The ten (10) suspects, including a Zambian, have been detained awaiting further investigations.

Mr. Nason Banda, Director General, Drug Enforcement Commission

The remainder of the detained individuals were of Egyptian, Dutch, Spanish, and Latvian citizenship.

Director General Banda stated, also, that the seized funds had been remanded to the “custody” of the Bank of Zambia for the investigation’s duration.

Zambian Minister of Mines and Mineral Development Paul Kapusoy later disclosed the “suspected” gold had been assayed by his ministry’s geological division and determined to be alloys of gold ostensibly comprising copper in the range of 58-to-61-percent, zinc in the range of 38-to-41-percent, and trace amounts of tin and zinc.

Antoine Vey, the founding attorney of the French law firm Vey & Associés publicly repudiated the Global Express’s seizure, stating: “Zambian authorities have committed a major violation of their own constitution, and in disregard of due process enshrined in the legislative systems of UN members states, in the detainment of an in-transit private aircraft, its crew, and its eight passengers.”

Mr. Vey set forth the aforementioned South African business man and his associates were forced, physically, by Zambian police to disembark the aircraft, were deprived of their passports, and taken into custody.

Vey further stated the detainees, since being placed in custody, have been subjected to inhumane treatment, denied access to legal counsel, and deprived of proper food, sleep, and basic sanitary conditions. Repeated demands for medical help by the ailing reportedly went unheeded.

Vey contended the contents of the aircraft, including the personal belongings of the passengers, have been seized under pretexts afforded airs of legitimacy by incomplete and doctored official records—in particular the cash, the reported amount of which Vey asserted falls dramatically short of what was actually aboard the aircraft.

Vey & Associates is engaging with Zambian authorities who, thus far, have released minimal information pertaining to the information or sources by which they were motivated to carry out the seizure.

Monsieur Vey remarked: “I have taken the decision to dispatch one of my office’s senior human rights counsels to document and monitor the various violations of domestic and international law being committed in Zambia, as well as the risks faced by international businesses seeking to do business in The Continent of The Future.”

Vey added: “We demand the immediate release of the detainees to proper living conditions in a hotel pending the completion of the so-called investigation within a maximum of 48-hours, to be followed by unconditional approval for the aircraft and its passengers, with all their confiscated belongings, to depart Kenneth Kaunda International Airport after receiving the adequate apologies for the gross mistreatment they have received for no fault of their own. The international community at large, and the African Union in particular, are called upon to closely monitor the developments of this matter over the coming few days.”

Aspersions have been cast, also, upon the Zambian assay of the metals discovered aboard the seized aircraft. Suspicions have arisen that the metal is, in fact, highly-pure gold, which has been reported otherwise that it might be illegally appropriated by corrupt Zambian officials. Historical precedent for the tactic is well-documented and endemic across the governments of central and south-central Africa.  

FMI: www.vey-associes.com/en

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