PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA
For 12 years, Wouter Basson allegedly developed poisons for use on enemies of South Africa's apartheid state.
He searched for viruses that would sterilize or kill only blacks.
He stockpiled cholera and illicit drugs, and ordered the development of bizarre weapons – such as a poison-tipped umbrella – for use by the secret police.
Yet last week, after a two-year trial, Mr. Basson was found not guilty of 46 counts against him, including murder, intimidation, and drug possession.
The failure of the South African government's multimillion dollar case against Basson – a chemical-weapons expert, dubbed "Dr. Death" by the country's media – highlights the difficulties of seeking legal justice for apartheid-era crimes under South Africa's model of reconciliation and forgiveness.
It also shows the deep racial divide that still runs through this nation nearly eight years after Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president.