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Defence lawyers want informer’s data

14th November 2003

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Defence lawyers in the Boeremag treason trial sought access yesterday to a file containing information collected by a police informer, but the State contended the dossier was privileged.

Twenty-two alleged Boeremag members are standing trial on 42 charges including murder, attempted murder, treason, terrorism, sabotage, and arms and explosives violations.

Informer Johannes Coenraad Smit told the court that his written statement, on which the State's case was largely based, was compiled from bits of information he collected during a months-long undercover operation in 2001.

That information was kept in a special file by his handler, Superintendent Louis Pretorius.

But defence advocate Harry Prinsloo claimed in court yesterday that Smit's oral evidence often differed from his written statement.

He intimated that Smit was being spoon-fed, and questioned the working methods between him and Pretorius during the course of the investigation.

Smit had admitted that some of the information he collected was left out of the final statement because it was not regarded as relevant, Prinsloo said.

"My clients are prejudiced when the State alone determines what is relevant and what not".

The defence needed access to the original information in the file to check the facts, Prinsloo argued.

Other defence lawyers supported the application, saying they were being ambushed with new facts in Smit's testimony that did not form part of any documentation before the court.

Chief prosecutor Paul Fick said channels existed through which a formal application could be brought for the file in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The law provides for such an application to be made to an information officer of the SA Police Service.

Defence lawyers objected, saying the information they were seeking did not fall under the scope of the Act.

Prinsloo also complained that some of the exhibits before the court were merely copies of original documents.

The originals were in the possession of the police.

These included, he said, the first version of the so-called Document 12 - a blue-print for the coup d'etat allegedly planned by the rightwing Boeremag organisation.

"What the court has before it is secondary evidence," Prinsloo argued.

"We are being prejudiced by this".

Smit, a former Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging member, was the first State witness to testify in the trial.

He told the court last week how the Boeremag planned to "chase" all blacks and Indians out of the country, blow up power stations, take over defence force bases and eliminate "enemies" of the Boers.

The trial continues. – Sapa.
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