Lawyer wants Basson acquitted

2013-11-15 17:52
Dr Wouter Basson (Picture: Foto24)

Dr Wouter Basson (Picture: Foto24)

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Pretoria - Cardiologist Dr Wouter Basson should be acquitted as the hearing into his professional conduct was unfair, unreasonable and unlawful, his lawyer said on Friday.

"Alternatively, the respondent [Basson] should be acquitted as the complainant did not prove the guilt of the respondent on a balance of probabilities," said Advocate Jaap Cilliers.

Cilliers was presenting his closing arguments at the six-year long misconduct hearing in Pretoria against Basson initiated by the Health Professions Council of SA (HPCSA).

He said the committee should take into consideration the evidence of expert witnesses who testified for the defence and Basson's own evidence.

"There is no basis to reject the evidence of the respondent, more especially with regards to his decision-making and what motivated him to do so."

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

"When he was involved in the project, he did not act as a medical doctor but as project officer... he did not practice medicine," said Cilliers.

"There was no doctor-patient relationship."

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

Cilliers said the question that remained was whether it was unbecoming of a registered doctor employed in another capacity, to be involved in certain actions in order to protect his country and civilians.

This at a time when the country was involved in conventional warfare, different stages of a state of emergency and "uncontrollable crowds", who disrespected the lives and property of others, said Cilliers.

Charges against Basson

The charges against Basson arise from his involvement in the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s and early 1990s.

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 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 the decision. That was also dismissed in September 2005.

Read more on:    hpcsa  |  wouter basson

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