Tanzania asks South Africa court to order release of grounded aircraft

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Tanzania has asked the High Court in South Africa to speed up the process of deciding if an aircraft, which was impounded last week, should be released.

The Airbus jet, operated by Air Tanzania, was detained when it landed at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, after lawyers representing a farmer who was awarded $33m (£28.8m) compensation, obtained an order to ground the plane.

The farmer, who has not been identified, was awarded the compensation after Tanzania nationalised his land in the 1980s.

The government took control of a bean and seed farm, seizing 250 cars and 12 small planes.

Lawyers for the Tanzanian government have told the South African court that the aircraft is used by President John Magafuli and he cannot meet his international obligations because it is impounded.

They also say the jet contains sensitive security equipment and leaving it in a foreign country could compromise classified information.

The judge reserved his judgement, following a hearing last Friday, which means the court could give its decision at any time.

Meanwhile the aircraft, which can carry up to 150 passengers, remains grounded.

 

Sammie Idika