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Ex-S. Africa Leader To Be Charged

January 7, 1998

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ Former President P.W. Botha will be prosecuted for refusing to appear before South Africa’s Truth commission, the Western Cape attorney general announced today.

Although the charge or charges likely would be minor, the decision to proceed by prosecutor Frank Kahn represents a major victory for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The panel, which is investigating alleged human rights abuses by all sides during the struggle to overturn white minority rule in South Africa, faced a credibility problem if Botha had been able to continue defying it.

Kahn’s announcement came after Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel laureate who heads the commission, formally requested Dec. 19 that Botha be charged for refusing to appear.

The panel wants to hear Botha’s account of the activities of the now-defunct State Security Council, the white-led government’s highest security body. He has ignored three summons.

Botha has called the Truth commission a ``circus″ and a witch hunt against apartheid leaders and repeatedly has said he will not testify.

President Nelson Mandela has warned Botha that no one is above the law, including the 81-year-old former president of white-led South Africa.

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