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South Africa apartheid officials plead guilty to attempted murder

[JURIST] Two former South African officials pleaded guilty to attempted murder [plea and sentencing agreement, PDF] Friday for their role in a 1989 plot to assassinate then-opposition member and current Director-General in the President's Office Frank Chikane. As part of the plea agreement with prosecutors, former Minister of Law and Order Adriaan Vlok and former police chief Johannes Van der Merwe were sentenced to 10-year prison terms, suspended so long as neither commits any crimes over the next five years. Three other former apartheid police officials were sentenced to five years, suspended for four years, for their involvement in the assassination plot. There had been speculation that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [official website] would try to reach a plea bargain [SABCnews report] with Vlok to obtain more evidence against former South Africa President F.W. de Klerk [official profile], who has refused to apply for amnesty with South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) [official website].

In July, De Clerk denied [press release, DOC; JURIST report] having knowledge of or participating in crimes against opposition members, adding that South Africa should "look at the future" and refrain from engaging in "persecution and retribution." De Klerk also reiterated that amnesty for apartheid-era atrocities was a precondition for negotiations [statement, DOC] for the ruling white-minority, saying that the apartheid government "enjoyed overwhelming military superiority" and that there "would have been no settlement without a sure expectation that members of the old order would not be victimized by any new government." De Klerk also said that the anti-apartheid opposition was responsible for more than 500 "necklacing" murders [Wikipedia backgrounder], and accused the government of paying little attention to the atrocities committed by anti-apartheid groups. AP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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