Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan says Nelson Mandela was instrumental in his 2003 decision to empty death row.
Ryan addressed attendees gathered Sunday at the Chicago church of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, who hosted a "people's tribute'' to the late South African leader.
Ryan, a Republican, was released from prison earlier this year after serving more than five years on corruption charges. His roughly five-minute speech was one of his first public appearances since his release.
Ryan and Mandela met in 2000 on a trade mission to South Africa.