(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s new justice minister, Ronald Lamola, put the extradition of former Mozambique Finance Minister Manuel Chang back to his home country on hold after learning that he would have immunity from prosecution there.
Chang was arrested in December in South Africa, where he remains in custody. The U.S. has also applied for his extradition, based on a slew of charges related to financial crimes, including securities fraud and accepting kickbacks in connection with Mozambique’s $2 billion hidden-debt scandal.
Lamola authorized his department to oppose an urgent application by Chang himself to be surrendered to Mozambican authorities after receiving the information about his immunity, the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said in a statement on Saturday. Under South African law, Chang could only be extradited if charges had already been filed in Mozambique. His immunity would prevent him from actually facing any charges.
Chang’s extradition to Mozambique won’t be permitted until his immunity is lifted and charges are filed. A spokesman at the ministry said it wasn’t clear if and when Mozambique would revoke Chang’s immunity.
Lamola’s predecessor made a decision to extradite Chang to Mozambique in May.
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