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Botha ordered apartheid bombing, killer says

SHARE Botha ordered apartheid bombing, killer says

A convicted pro-apartheid killer hurled fresh accusations against former South African president P.W. Botha Thursday, naming him as commander of a three-man team that blew up a political safe house in Zimbabwe.

Former hit squad leader Eugene de Kock, testifying at Botha's trial for contempt of the truth commission probing apartheid-era crimes, has scorned the country's former white leaders as cowards who let their underlings take the blame.De Kock, who has served just two years of sentences totaling 212 years for murders and other crimes, said Botha was commander of the three men, serving life sentences in Zimbabwe since 1988 for bombing a house used by the then exiled African National Congress.

"He was their commander," de Kock told the court.

"These people have been languishing for 11 years. They are being left totally alone, to die totally alone," he added.

He called on Botha to admit that the men, whom Zimbabwe has refused to release to South Africa, worked on state orders.

He said they were members of the army's special operations unit, the Civil Cooperation Bureau, and one, Kevin Woods, was a double agent for Washington's Central Intelligence Agency.

Known to colleagues as "Prime Evil" because of his taste for violence, de Kock also told the court in the small coastal town of George that Botha, now 82, ordered a bomb-ing he carried out of a trade union headquarters in Johannesburg.

He had hinted as much on Wednesday but got the chance to name the former president, who was ousted in 1989 by reformist F.W. de Klerk, under cross-examination on Thursday.

De Kock said he asked his boss at his clandestine police unit, Brigadier Willem Schoon, who had ordered the bombing.

"I realized because of my training that it was major terrorism from the security forces' side. It was not counter-insurgency, it was insurgency in our country," he said.

"I asked him how high the order came from and he said `from the top.' I asked him again and that's when P.W. Botha's name came into it. He said `from the president.' "