Appeal of South African chemical and biowarfare project head denied

An appeal by the former head of a secret South African chemical and biological warfare project to overturn a court ruling that allowed his conduct to be probe was recently dismissed in Pretoria, South Africa.

The appeal, which was dismissed in the North Gauteng High Court, sought to overturn a ruling that allowed the Health Professions Council of South Africa to probe Wouter Basson's conduct as part of Project Coast.

Basson, nicknamed "Dr. Death," was acquitted of criminal charges in 2002. He is alleged to have used a lethal triple cocktail of muscle relaxants on prisoners of war.

Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann, in dismissing the appeal applicaiton, agreed with a previous judgment that there was no indication that Boyce Mkhize, HPCSA's registrar and CEO, attempted to influence investigations to find Basson guilty of unethical behavior.

Jaap Cilliers, Basson's counsel, had argued that Mkhize had influence investigations, the Mail & Guardian reports. The HSPCA's counsel, Gilbert Marcus, called those allegations "absolutely preposterous," according to the Mail & Guardian.

"They are just trying to frustrate the process...the argument is utterly without merit and should be dismissed as such...It is ill-conceived and hopeless," Marcus added.

Basson may now either accept the judgment and face the HPCSA' internal disciplinary process or approach the Supreme Court of Appeal.