Arms deal critic: Probe one-sided

2013-11-08 13:00
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Johannesburg - A businessman wanting to cross-examine witnesses before the arms deal commission believes their testimony risks being "perjury by omission", the Mail&Guardian reported on Friday.

Richard Young, a losing bidder in the multi-billion rand arms procurement process and outspoken critic of the deal, applied to cross-examine a witness at the commission.

Commission chairperson Judge Willie Seriti ruled this week that Young had to be ready to cross-examine his witness as soon as his testimony was complete.

But Young has raised concerns that the commission was not allowing allegations of fraud and corruption to be put to State witnesses as these were only meant to be dealt with in phase two of the hearing.

Young wanted this resolved before he arrived at the commission.

"So far, most of the witnesses' testimony is almost perjury by omission. It is certainly of very little help and value.

"My bottom line is that the APC [arms procurement commission] is showing itself to be going all out to accommodate the navy, Armscor and its own witnesses... and is making it very difficult for cross-examiners [whose questioning] could add enormous value to the APC's work and the public's understanding of what really happened."

The commission's work is divided into phases - the first consists of evidence mainly given by government officials and the second consists mainly of arms deal critics.

Young accused the commission of being one-sided, in that it made no attempt to rigorously examine the evidence of government witnesses.

The commission did not respond to questions from the M&G.
Read more on:    willie seriti  |  arms deal  |  corruption

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