Some charges against Wouter Basson dropped

2011-09-26 19:04
Pretoria - The Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA) decided on Monday not to proceed with some of the charges laid against cardiologist Wouter Basson.

These included one relating to Basson accepting his appointment by the surgeon general of the SA Defence Force as the apartheid-era germ-warfare expert heading Project Coast.

The council also dropped the third charge and elements of the second one, spokesperson Lize Nel said in Pretoria.

Both relate to tests conducted on members of the special forces troops and the SA Police Task Force. The tests used substances such as Mandrax, ecstasy, an incapacitating agent BZ and teargas.

Nel said reasons for the withdrawal of these charges would be heard when an ethics expert gave testimony.

Basson now faces charges relating to his efforts to "weaponise" thousands of 120mm mortar bombs with teargas, make cyanide capsules available to operational officers for suicide and provide disorientation substances to tranquilise kidnapped people.

Charges against Basson were brought in 2007.

Basson arrived at the council accompanied by Jaap Cilliers, who represented him at the hearing previously.

Last year, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed an application by Basson that would have prevented the HPCSA from continuing the inquiry. Basson wanted the hearings to be found unlawful, unreasonable and unfair.

However, Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann reinforced a previous judgment that there was no indication the council's CEO Boyce Mkhize tried to influence the investigation into Basson.

The court ruled there was no reasonable evidence to suggest the council's professional conduct committee was prejudiced against the doctor. It found Basson's apparent fear to appear before the committee was unjustified.

Speaking to journalists during the break, Basson said he wanted to close that chapter of his life and continue helping his patients.

He has a cardiology practice in Durbanville, Cape Town.

Monday morning arguments centred around confidential documents containing information on deliberations between current Project Coast head Ben Steyn who took over from Basson in 1993, and his application to the HPCSA to research bio-chemical weapons.

Cilliers said the documents would help his team prepare for examination and could even favour his client.

He argued the defence required the documents "as a matter of fairness".

Pro-forma prosecutor Salie Joubert had argued that the contents of the documents had no bearing on the inquiry into Basson's professional conduct. He said the application to access the documents was intended to prolong proceedings.

However, Cilliers said the HPCSA had sent a letter refusing to hand over the documents. According to the letter doing so would prejudice the prosecution.

"There can be no better relevance than that," charged Cilliers. Steyn did not testify in-camera as expected on Monday afternoon. He wanted to first seek legal advice.

The hearing would continue at 09:00 on Tuesday.
Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson

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