Basson denies unethical conduct in Project Coast

"I did not act unprofessionally when I took part in the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme," said Wouter Basson yesterday.

"I did not act unprofessionally when I took part in the apartheid government's chemical and biological warfare programme," said Wouter Basson yesterday.

Basson pleaded not guilty to six charges of unprofessional conduct brought against him by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

They focus on the period when Basson headed the previous government's secret germ warfare project named Project Coast.

The six charges included that he performed tests in the absence of any approved medical research guidelines, that he manufactured incapacitating drugs and gases and that he made available cyanide capsules to specialised units for use in suicide.

Also included in the charges is that he "weaponised" mortars by filling them with teargas and providing disorientation substances for over-the-border kidnapping exercises.

His lawyer, Advocate Jaap Cilliers, admitted in Basson's plea explanation to most of the facts on the charge sheet.

But he explained that while Basson took the actions, this was not unprofessional.

"From the outset it was the express instruction and philosophy of Project Coast that no research and or agents manufactured in the projects would ever be utilised for any other purpose than to establish a defensive capability for the Defence Force in the field," Basson said in his written plea explanation.

An ethics expert arguing on behalf of the prosecution, Solomon Benatar, said Basson's actions did not fit the description of the duties and responsibilities of a medical professional. - Sapa

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