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Thursday, 18 January, 2001, 11:48 GMT
'White Mischief' trial begins
The convicted woman
Mariette Bosch maintained her innocence throughout her trial
By Greg Barrow in Lobatse

A panel of five judges drawn from across the Commonwealth will hear on the final appeal of a white South African woman who's been sentenced to hang in Botswana.


The case has sent shock waves through the tightly-knit white community in Botswana

Mariette Bosch was found guilty of murder in a bizarre love triangle.

She was sentenced to death last year after she was convicted of shooting dead her best friend so that she could marry the murdered woman's husband.

The case has been dubbed Botswana's White Mischief, after a famous book which told the tale of love and intrigue among wealthy whites in colonial Kenya

On death row

If her appeal fails, she'll become the first white woman to be hanged in the history of Botswana.

Her fate now lies in the hands of a panel of five Commonwealth judges drawn from Britain and Africa, who will consider evidence supporting her claim that she is innocent.

Botswana
A total of 33 people have been executed in Botswana since 1966
Under Botswana law, Commonwealth judges are called in to decide on the final appeal in cases of capital punishment.

Last year, the High Court found Bosch guilty of firing two fatal shots into the head of her best friend, Ria Wolmerans.

The court heard that soon afterwards, Bosch became engaged to Mrs Wolmeran's husband Tienie and even bought a wedding dress.

She was arrested soon afterwards.

Ugly tale

The case has sent shock waves through the tightly-knit white community in Botswana.

Few could understand why Bosch had jeopardised her comfortable life in Botswana by undertaking the premeditated murder of her best friend.

The public has been quick to draw parallels between this case and the life of wealthy white Kenyans in the British colonial era, which was celebrated in the popular book and film, White Mischief.

Over the next few days, the Commonwealth judges will reconsider the evidence against her and decide whether she should go to the gallows.

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