JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Human rights lawyers on Tuesday pressed South Africa to explain why a murder suspect from Botswana was illegally deported to his country, where he could be executed if convicted.
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs has acknowledged that the man, Edwin Samotse, was handed to officials in neighboring Botswana in violation of South African rules that bar the extradition or deportation of people whose countries have the death penalty. It said it was investigating and that some officials were suspended.
South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995 after the end of white minority rule.
Lawyers for Human Rights, a South African group, has sought a court order requiring the government to ask Botswana not to impose the death penalty if Samotse is convicted, said David Cote, head of the group's strategic litigation unit. The next court hearing on the matter is Thursday, according to Lawyers for Human Rights.
Samotse was arrested in Botswana in 2010 but fled to South Africa, where he was detained a year later, according to court papers. Prior to his deportation in August, South Africa asked Botswana to promise that Samotse would not get the death penalty in the event of extradition and conviction, but Botswana did not give the assurance, according to South African officials.