South Africa: 'Dr Death' Feels the Heat. (News in Brief)

Article excerpt

The protracted legal tussle in the case of Dr Wouter Basson, the former head of South Africa's secretive chemical and biological warfare programme (GBW), continued in late January and February, with the prosecution presenting its final arguments on 18 human rights violation charges.

Chief prosecutor, Anton Ackermann, took a backseat in favour of his junior counsel, Werner Bouwer, after a furious slanging match with Judge Hartzenberg in November. He is convinced that none of his arguments will find favour with the judge.

Bouwer argued that Basson's legal team had failed to challenge crucial testimony about the supply of lethal toxins used in murdering enemies of the apartheid state. "Very little of the evidence given by the veterinary toxicologist Dr Andre Immelmann had been disputed," he said.

Between 1984 and 1992, Immelmann was Basson's tight hand man at Roodeplaat Research Laboratories, one of the South African Defence Forces' CBW front companies.

On the fraud-related charges against Basson (also known as "Dr Death"), Bouwer said it was extremely interesting that there had been no public acknowledgement of the "heroic tasks" that Basson claimed he had performed for the apartheid government s former enemies. Basson had told the court that he had close contacts with the Libyan foreign minister and Nelson Mandela. …