South Africa must extradite Manuel Chang to the US, judge rules

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Mozambique’s former finance minister Manuel Chang should be extradited to face trial in the United States, a judge in South Africa ruled on Wednesday. Chang has spent almost three years in custody in South Africa awaiting a final decision.

Judge Margaret Victor said that South African justice minister Ronald Lamola’s original decision, to honour the United States’ extradition request, should stand, saying he had failed to justify his about-face this year, when he decided Chang should instead be extradited to Mozambique.

Judge Victor’s decision can be heard on YouTube here

“Mr Manuel Chang is to be surrendered and extradited to the United States of America, to stand trial for his alleged offences in the United States of America as contained in the extradition request dated 28 January 2019,” Judge Victor said on Wednesday.

Having originally set aside his predecessor’s decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique, Lamola then changed his own mind and ordered Chang to be extradited to Mozambique in August 2021.

That change of heart was challenged by the Mozambican civil society coalition FMO, and their arguments won the day in the South African court. Lamola failed to justify his u-turn, leading to a decision that was “inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa,” Judge Victor said.

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