Inquiry into Basson set to resume this week

An inquiry into to the conduct of Dr. Wouter Basson, the head of South Africa's apartheid-era biological weapons program, is set to resume this week in Pretoria, South Africa.

Basson, a cardiologist by training, is seeking to be discharged of several counts of unethical conduct before the Health Professions Council of South Africa. The inquiry by the HPCSA's professional conduct committee has been postponed since last year because of legal wrangling concerning a portion of Basson's discharge application, according to

In September, the HPCSA withdrew two of the six charges of unethical conduct it had filed against Basson, who led the apartheid government's clandestine biological warfare program, but his medical license remains in jeopardy, according to

Basson asserts that he was following the instructions of General Ernst Nieuwoudt, South Africa's former surgeon general. He said he believed the program he was working on was defensive in nature and that his job was to develop guidelines only.

A Pretoria court acquitted Basson of the 46 criminal charges made against him, including murder, conspiracy to commit murder, fraud and drug offenses. He is, however, still accused of manufacturing incapacitating drugs and tear gas for use in Angola, where South Africa was supporting one side in a vicious civil war. He is also accused of helping distribute cyanide to South African soldiers so that they could commit suicide if caught on cross-border or illegal missions.

The medical ethics committee brought new charges against Basson in 2007. They are seeking to have his medical license revoked for violations of their professional code of conduct.

Basson declined to seek amnesty from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which allows people to confess and then escape punishment for crimes committed before 1994. The doctor says he has left his past behind him and now only wants to focus on his cardiology practice.