Human rights lawyers are pressing 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 acknowledges 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 says it is investigating and that some officials were suspended.

David Cote of Lawyers for Human Rights, a South African group, said Tuesday that the group is asking a Pretoria court to instruct the government to ask Botswana not to impose the death penalty if Samotse is convicted.

South Africa abolished the death penalty in 1995 after the end of white minority rule.