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Wednesday, January 7, 1998 Published at 11:26 GMT


PW Botha to be prosecuted

PW Botha says the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wants to humiliate him

Former South African president PW Botha is being put on trial for refusing to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Prosecutor Frank Khan said the move was warranted in law and in the public interest.

Mr Botha, 82 next Monday, had written to the commission but ignored its demands that he appear in person to explain his role in the apartheid era.

Mr Khan, Attorney General of the Western Cape, said he took into account the standing and state of health of Mr Botha before deciding to prosecute.

Mr Botha is accused of ignoring the commission. The charge carries a maximum sentence of two years. The former president could also be fined.

The move to prosecute follows a request for action by the commission's chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, after the former president ignored three summonses.

The commission is investigating alleged abuses by both sides during the apartheid era.

It wants to question Mr Botha about killings of black activists and the workings of the now-defunct state security council which he headed.

Mr Botha has dismissed the commission's proceedings as a circus which is out to humiliate him publicly.

A previous move to prosecute him was dropped after it was found that the subpoena ordering him to give evidence was flawed.

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