'Amnesty by stealth' in SA

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CAPE TOWN - The South African government generated what is certain to be a long-running political controversy yesterday with the introduction of a parliamentary bill to indemnify political offenders without public disclosure of their crimes, writes John Carlin .

Described by a European diplomat as 'a general amnesty by stealth', the bill envisages investing President F W de Klerk with the power to grant indemnities to members of the security forces engaged in crimes committed in defence of the apartheid state. The indemnity option will also extend to political prisoners and to those who committed criminal acts on behalf of the black liberation movement.