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UPDATE 1-South African court rules ex-finmin from Mozambique should be extradited to the United States


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JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 10 (Reuters) – A South African court ruled on Wednesday that Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang should be extradited to the United States, overturning the South African justice minister’s decision to send it to its country of origin.

The United States and Mozambique have both requested Chang’s extradition for his alleged role in a $ 2 billion debt scandal in Mozambique, and a debate over where he should be charged has been ongoing for decades. years.

Chang, detained in South Africa since 2018, denies committing any wrongdoing.

In August and after a long delay, South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola decided to send Chang to Mozambique, but this was challenged in court by civil society groups who argued that a justice appropriate would only be made in the United States.

Judge Margaret Victor on Wednesday overturned Lamola’s ruling, saying it was incompatible with South Africa’s constitution and the court could not conclude it was rational.

“The decision … is replaced by the following: Mr. Manuel Chang should be surrendered and extradited to the United States of America to stand trial for his alleged offenses,” she continued.

South Africa’s Justice Department and Chang’s lawyer said they would comment on the ruling once they saw the written judgment.

Chang is wanted for $ 2 billion in state-backed loans, which he signed during his tenure as finance minister from 2005 to 2015, apparently for projects spanning tuna fishing, shipyard development. naval and maritime safety.

However, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone missing, including in the form of bribes, officials say, while many promised benefits never materialized.

The Mozambican government has not disclosed all loans to parliament or to donors, including the International Monetary Fund. When the full amount of the loan was revealed, donors halted their support to Mozambique and its currency, the metical, collapsed.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Toby Chopra and Andrei Khalip

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