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Apartheid "Dr Death" still on S.Africa payroll

Written by: Staff
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JOHANNESBURG, Sep 14 (Reuters) The apartheid-era operative dubbed ''Dr. Death'' for his alleged role in plots to murder black activists is still on the South African military payroll, confirm officials.

Wouter Basson, who once headed the white government's germ warfare programme, receives a monthly salary of 50,000 rand (6,800 dollar) from the South African National Defence Force even though he was suspended from the force in 1999, they said yesterday.

''It's a very complex labour issue that will be dealt with sooner rather than later,'' Defence Secretary January Masilela said in a statement.

Basson was acquitted in 2002 of multiple murders, drug-trafficking, fraud and theft after one of the longest trials in South African history.

Basson was accused of leading a series of poisoning plots targeting anti-apartheid activists and involving gadgets such as screwdrivers concealing hypodermic needles and cigarettes laced with anthrax.

Basson, a former brigadier general now working as a surgeon in Cape Town, said last year he had no regrets and suggested that accusations against him were misdirected and exaggerated.

''There is a large tendency to exaggerate whatever happened in the past ... I am not ashamed of what I have done. I learned a lot and it was a great time in my life,'' he said.

REUTERS DKA KP1022

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