The South African Justice Minister said the former Mozambican Finance Minister would be extradited to his native Mozambique – instead of the United States, as American officials demanded – to be accused of allegedly taking part in a large-scale loan scandal that cripples the country's economy.
Former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chan, arrested in December in Johannesburg, is demanding the US and Mozambique for his alleged role in the $ 2 billion debt scandal that has caused economic chaos in the South African state.
Both the United States and Mozambique filed petitions for the extradition of Chang, and last month the court in Johannesburg handed over the case to South African Justice Minister Michael Masuta, who stated in his statement that "he is convinced that the interest of justice will be best supported by the accession of the Republic of Mozambique's request. "
US officials refused to comment when they contacted VOA.
Suffering from the nation
But Chang faces mixed home admissions.
While the Mozambican government apparently wants it back, most citizens do not, because they fear it will not face the same level of control as the US court, says Mozambique's famous political commentator, Fernando Lima.
"At 100 percent, I'm sure all the different official services, including the Chief Prosecutor's Office, are very pleased with the outcome announced last night by the Minister," he told VOA. "On the other hand, the popular reaction was very, very negative."
The secret loan forced the coastal nation to experience such a heavy debt crisis that it deprived citizens of the most important services such as road maintenance and well-maintained hospitals.
It is unclear what charges will be faced with Chang in Mozambique – South African prosecutors say they have not been charged in Mozambique. The American indictment issued by New York's eastern district accused Chang and others of "deliberately diverting portions of loan proceeds to pay at least $ 200 million bribes and bribes to themselves, government officials in Mozambique and others."
Earlier this week, former banker Credit Suisse, who was involved in the lawsuit, pleaded guilty to New York court on charges of helping money laundering as part of the scheme.
Human Rights Watch researcher Zenaida Machado said he believes that Chang's case is irrelevant – it matters, she says, that she is facing a fair trial.
"I'm not sure if the question is whether it's sent to Mozambique or the United States," she said. "And I would really avoid such a conversation because it implies that one country or another is better for human rights, which is not the point of the work we do. to keep people responsible for the damage they have caused to millions of Mozambique. "
The government has arrested about 20 people in connection with the scandal in recent months, but no one has been tried. Indeed, Machado said, it is unclear what will happen to Chang when he returns home.
"Immunity must be removed from it," she said. "So the appeal we have to parliament is to do what we need to allow the authorities to arrest Mr. Chang and hand him over to justice, so he has a chance to prove he is innocent or not."