Trial evidence dismissed in Basson case

2013-07-15 19:26
Dr. Wouter Basson

Dr. Wouter Basson

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Pretoria - Evidence presented by Cape Town cardiologist Wouter Basson during his criminal trial will not be used in the hearing investigating his alleged unethical behaviour, the Health Professionals Council of SA ruled on Monday.

"It is ruled that ... should not be allowed in order to maintain consistency with previous rulings, consideration of fairness, and in order not to allow anything that will unduly protract the scope of the inquiry," said Prof Jannie Hugo, chair of the HPCSA's professional conduct committee.

The hearing is into the charges of unethical conduct brought by the HPCSA against Basson before its professional conduct committee.

Salie Joubert SC, representing the HPCSA, told the hearing he would use evidence presented by Basson in his criminal case and at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said he would also use this evidence during the cross-examination of Basson’s witness Dr Niel Knobel.

Basson’s legal team objected, arguing this would delay proceedings, as this evidence was contained in a document of over 1 000 pages.

The team argued that bringing such evidence would also not be fitting to the scope of the hearing. This was echoed by the chair's legal adviser, retired judge Frikkie Eloff.

The hearing adjourned and a few minutes later Hugo presented his ruling.

The charges arise from Basson’s [alleged] 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 teargas, of weaponising teargas, and of supplying it to Angola's Unita leader Jonas Savimbi.

Acting unethically

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 [Gauteng North] 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.

In 2006, the HPCSA started its own process of investigating Basson’s conduct. A charge sheet was drawn up and the inquiry began in November 2007. However, the inquiry was delayed when the HPCSA’s main expert witness fell ill. The inquiry resumed again in September 2008.

During the November 2008 hearing, Basson’s legal team argued that the case brought against him was unlawful and biased.

Basson’s legal team then went to the [Gauteng North] High Court in Pretoria to stop the inquiry. The matter was heard in the high court only in 2010. The court dismissed Basson’s application in May 2010.

The next month, Basson appealed the decision in the same court, but lost.

The hearing then resumed officially in September 2011.

In January 2012, Basson brought another application before the HPCSA's professional conduct committee to dismiss the matter.

However, Basson’s application was dismissed.

The hearing continues on Tuesday.

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