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S/African court blocks extradition of ex-Mozambican minister

A South African court has ordered a stay of the planned extradition of jailed former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang…

A South African court has ordered a stay of the planned extradition of jailed former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang pending the outcome of an application by civil society activists to have him sent to the United States where he also faces similar money laundering and embezzlement charges.The Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday ordered South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola not to extradite Chang to his home country before the court has ruled on an application by the Mozambique Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO), a group of civil society organisations, to stop the extradition until arguments against it can be heard. 

Chang was arrested on a US arrest warrant at a South African airport while in transit to Maputo from Dubai in December 2018.

The US asked South Africa to extradite him while Mozambique also wanted him moved to Maputo to face trial for allegedly receiving bribes to authorise international loans of US$2.2 billion intended to buy fishing trawlers and military patrol boats. 

The transactions, in which the Mozambican government was cited as a guarantor, were, however, made without the required parliamentary approval and most of the funds were allegedly diverted to government officials. Chang denies any wrongdoing.

Chang is wanted to testify as a witness in a Maputo court where 19 other defendants — including the son of former Mozambican president Armando Guebuza — are already on trial in the “hidden debts” corruption scandal. 

FMO, however, wants the former minister to be extradited to the US where he is also wanted on similar charges.

The activists are arguing that Mozambique does not have the political will or capacity to ensure there is no interference in the trial.

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