Basson hearing postponed for judgment

2013-11-15 22:21
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Pretoria - The hearing into the professional conduct of apartheid-era chemical warfare expert Dr Wouter Basson was postponed on Friday for judgment.

Committee chair Jannie Hugo postponed the matter to 18 December when judgment would be delivered.

"We will inform the parties about another possible date should circumstances make it impossible to deliver judgment on that date."

The six-year long hearing, initiated by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA), was held at the organisation's offices in Pretoria.

Advocate Jaap Cilliers, for Basson, presented closing arguments on Friday.

He said the cardiologist should be acquitted as the hearing was unfair, unreasonable and unlawful.

The HPCSA did not prove its case against Basson, he said.

It did not present its own evidence but relied on evidence from the courts and Basson.

Basson was a young man at the time, and discharged his responsibilities as a soldier, and not as a medical practitioner from the time he got involved in Project Coast.

Project Coast was a secret biological and chemical warfare research project, which violated international protocols and conventions.

Basson was the project officer and allegedly acted unethically during his involvement in the project from the 1980s to the early 1990s.

Cilliers argued that Basson's conduct at the time was mainly to ensure the safety of the populace in the least harmful way.

The hearing into Basson's conduct should have been brought years ago as complaints were lodged in 2000.

Apartheid government

A charge sheet was provided in 2006, five years after the complaint was laid, said Cilliers.

The charges against Basson arise from his involvement in the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme.

He is accused of acting unethically by being involved in the large-scale production of Mandrax, cocaine and tear gas, of weaponising tear gas, and of supplying it to Angola's Unita leader Jonas Savimbi.

He is also accused of acting unethically by providing disorientating substances for cross-border kidnappings and making cyanide capsules available for distribution to operatives for use in committing suicide.

In 2002, Basson was acquitted by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria of criminal charges arising from his conduct.

The HPCSA reviewed the judgment to establish if there were grounds to continue with an inquiry against Basson.

The State appealed against the decision of the high court in the Supreme Court of Appeal, but the appeal was dismissed.

The State then went to the Constitutional Court to appeal against the decision. That was also dismissed in September 2005.

Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson

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