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Friday, December 19, 1997 Published at 09:15 GMT


Botha flouts Truth Commission

PW Botha is in contempt after flouting a Truth and Reconciliation Commission subpoenea

Former South African president, PW Botha, faces arrest and a jail sentence of up to two years after ignoring a summons to appear before the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Commission Chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, had called a formal meeting of the special hearing arranged for Mr Botha to answer questions about human rights abuses during his 11 years in power.

"Clearly the appeals of various people - including the President of this country - have not prevailed and Mr PW Botha has seen fit not to appear," Archbishop Tutu said.

"As we have indicated, we will let the law take its course," he added.

Mr Botha has eluded the panel for months. He called the Commission a "circus" and has repeatedly refused to testify.

Earlier this month, Mr Botha ignored another subpoena issued by the panel but escaped contempt charges because of a technical flaw in the order.

Reports say that he is unlikely to avoid charges this time.

Mr Botha was subpoenaed to appear before the hearing at 9:00 am (0700 GMT). State radio reported early on Friday that he was still at his home, in Wilderness, in the southern Cape, 300 kilometres (180 miles) away.

Conviction on the charge of contempt of Commission could result in a fine of up to 20,000 rands (£2,495) and imprisonment for two years.

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