South Africa Won’t Retry ‘Dr. Death’
BLOEMFONTEIN, South Africa (AP) _ South Africa’s highest appeals court rejected the government’s request to retry the head of apartheid’s germ warfare program who was once accused of plotting to poison Nelson Mandela.
Wouter Basson, accused of directing the former apartheid regime’s biochemical efforts to destroy its opponents, was acquitted in April 2002 on 46 charges, ranging from murder and drug trafficking to fraud and theft.
The ruling by judges Piet Streicher and Mohamed Navsa of the Supreme Court of Appeal means that Basson cannot be tried again and his acquittal stands, the South African Press Association reported.
In the ruling, Streicher and Navsa rejected prosecutors’ allegations that the judge who acquitted Basson after a 2 1/2-year trail favored the defendant.
During the trial, witnesses testified that Project Coast, the program Basson headed in the 1980s, involved trying to create deadly bacteria and anti-fertility drugs that would only affect blacks. They poisoned opponents’ clothing and stockpiled cholera, HIV and anthrax bacteria.
The alleged intended victims included former President Mandela and several African National Congress leaders who are now high-ranking government officials.
He had also been accused of siphoning millions of dollars from Project Coast to finance a lavish, globe-trotting lifestyle and of selling drugs.