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Panel Throws Out Some Allegations Against South Africa's "Dr. Death"

A professional review board on Monday threw out a number of violations that South African cardiologist Wouter Basson had purportedly committed during his tenure heading biological and chemical weapons programs under his nation's former apartheid government, Eyewitness News reported (see GSN, June 30, 2010).

The Health Professions Council of South Africa launched a probe in 2000 into possible unethical behavior by Basson as part of the South African military's Project Coast program. Basson, nicknamed "Dr. Death," was absolved in criminal court in 2002.

The eliminated allegations pertained to the use of related materials on law enforcement officials and to Basson's agreement to head the government's biological warfare efforts.

Basson must still contend with other alleged violations, though, and he might still be stripped of his medical license over breaches of ethics. He also faces allegations of filling munitions with a nonlethal chemical agent, and of supplying substances to anesthetize individuals abducted by the country's armed forces.

The elimination of some allegations did not mark a triumph for Basson, council advocate Tshepo Boikanyo said, adding the findings might not stand up to expert evidence.

Basson has hinted at ulterior motives behind steps against him. “I closed this chapter of my life about 20 years ago and since then, I’ve been trying to continue a normal life as a dedicated medical practitioner,” he said (Stephen Grootes, Eyewitness News, Sept. 26).

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