De Klerk demands apology from South African panel Truth commission leaders questioned his veracity


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- An impasse over the activity of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission deepened last week when former President F. W. de Klerk threatened to take legal action unless the chairman of the commission, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, apologizes for remarks he made last month.

De Klerk, who was questioned by the commission May 14, said two days later that he would withdraw his cooperation with the commission. But last week he went further, demanding the apology and the resignation of the commission's deputy chairman, Alex Boraine.

Officials from de Klerk's National Party said their lawyers had reviewed videotapes of the hearing and of a subsequent news conference and concluded that the commission had treated de Klerk with bias.

De Klerk's lawyers demanded a response from the commission by Tuesday, but later extended the deadline to June 19.

The commission, set up 18 months ago, is a kind of compromise intended to help this country put the past to rest. It allows the airing of grievances, but avoids the divisiveness of trials.

When de Klerk appeared before the commission, he insisted he was "as surprised as everyone else" at the extent of torture and murder committed by South African security forces during the apartheid era.

Tutu and Boraine said the next day that they found de Klerk's testimony unbelievable. Tutu said that he himself had brought de Klerk "an avalanche" of evidence of widespread torture.

Pub Date: 6/08/97

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