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South Africa's "Dr. Death" Loses Bid for Appeal

The Pretoria High Court yesterday dismissed South African cardiologist Wouter Basson's latest attempt to challenge a professional probe examining his work heading biological and chemical weapons programs under his nation's former apartheid government, The Mercury reported (see GSN, May 11).

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.

Judge Everhardt Bertelsmann yesterday blocked Basson's bid for leave to appeal the court's May decision to uphold the probe, which could pave the way for stripping Basson of his right to practice medicine. Basson pleaded not guilty to six misconduct charges now under investigation.

Basson's lawyer, Jaap Cilliers, reaffirmed concerns that his client would not receive a fair hearing.

The attorney previous succeeded in having a medical ethics specialist serving as a witness for the council assert that Basson had committed no improper act and should not be facing professional misconduct charges. The prosecution then requested a delay in the proceedings to recruit a new expert witness. It tapped University of Minnesota professor Steven Miles for the task (Zelda Venter, The Mercury/Independent Online, June 30).

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South Africa

This article provides an overview of South Africa’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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