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Poor health, a lost Italian passport and whistleblowing - why Agrizzi is appealing bail denial

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Poor health, a lost Italian passport and whistleblowing - why Agrizzi is appealing bail denial

Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi

16th October 2020

By: News24Wire

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Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi had appealed to the court to consider his poor health and the state of prisons before being denied bail. After spending his first night behind bars, he was transferred to hospital.

Against this backdrop, his lawyers have again approached the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court, in a bid to have him freed.

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In papers filed on Thursday, they argued Magistrate Philip Venter had erred when making his ruling in a case in which Agrizzi faces a charge of corruption for allegedly making payments to former African National Congress (ANC) MP Vincent Smith.

News24 previously reported security cameras and an electric fence were installed at Smith's home in Roodepoort.

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Venter said he was satisfied a prima facie case had been made against Agrizzi.

In his judgment, he added he was satisfied Agrizzi had the financial means to set up and sustain a "comfortable lifestyle" elsewhere, should he decide to abscond.

The court heard he had allegedly withheld information about the value of his assets, and together with his wife Deborah, moved millions of rand offshore and into cryptocurrency accounts.

The State had in an affidavit set out that in light of the evidence of money movements offshore, Agrizzi may be a flight risk.

But he argued beside a mere suspicion or opinion by the investigating officer he posed a flight risk, the State had no evidence he would attempt to evade and not stand trial.

Agrizzi said in his notice of appeal he had no previous convictions, had co-operated with authorities and appeared at court when required without fail.

He believed the court had failed to properly take into account he had reported the loss of his Italian passport and stated he would not apply for any passport or travel documents.

"The learned regional magistrate further erred in coming to a finding that the appellant, who was assisting the state capture commission, was setting up a life outside of South Africa and that he was considering his options once his whistle-blowing had commenced," his notice of appeal read.

"… and this is more particularly so when … [Venter] applauded the appellant and stated that more people should have guts to speak up of wrongdoings and he further found the appellant had co-operated with the investigating officer."

Agrizzi said the evidence and reasons regarding the sale of his motor vehicles were undisputed and all the transfers were done through the authorities and with Reserve Bank approval.

"This disclosure was in fact made to the South African Revenue Services."

Agrizzi arrived in court this week with a mobile oxygen unit and did not appear as energetic as usual.

His lawyers said in the notice of appeal Venter did not properly take into account Agrizzi's chronic medical conditions and he was dependent on a permanent supplemental oxygen supply.

His age and co-morbidities should have been a consideration, they argued.

"… he further failed to take into account the risks of prison life, a lack of medical facilities and the increasing rise of Covid-19 in the closed environment of the Department of Correctional Services and in particular at Johannesburg Central Prison, where he is being detained."

Correctional Services spokesperson Singabakho Nxumalo confirmed on Thursday Agrizzi was transferred to hospital "to receive further medical attention".

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