Monday Is D-Day as Wouter Basson Launches Court Bid to Halt HPCSA Inquiry

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BYLINE: ZELDA VENTER

PRETORIA: Wouter Basson will know on Monday whether the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) will be able to continue its disciplinary hearing against him flowing from his involvement in the previous government's chemical and biological warfare programme in the 1980s.

Basson yesterday approached the Pretoria High Court, asking for an order that would block the HPCSA from investigating him.

He wants Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann to declare the continuance of the inquiry unlawful, unreasonable and procedurally unfair.

Basson was acquitted in 2002 of all charges relating to alleged wrongdoing during his stint as head of the biological and chemical warfare programme dubbed Project Coast.

However, the HPCSA had, in 2002 received a number of complaints against him relating to his role in the programme, which Basson always maintained was defensive, and not offensive.

The investigation stood down until after his criminal trial.

Basson pleaded not guilty in 2007 to six charges relating to his alleged unprofessional conduct. He said at the time that as a member of the SA Defence Force, he had followed orders.

To date, only one witness was called to testify against him - an expert on the ethics of doctors, Professor Solomon Benatar. But he embarrassed the prosecution after he, under cross-examination by Basson's advocate, Jaap Cilliers, SC, said Basson had done nothing wrong.

The matter stood down for the prosecution to find another witness. This time, they found another expert, Professor Steven Miles from the University of Minnesota in the US.

Basson indicated that he would fight the inquiry in the high court, and the matter stood down pending Monday's decision.

Basson, one of the country's top cardiologists, currently practising in Cape Town, feels the HPCSA is biased against him and would go to any length to find him guilty of unprofessional conduct. …