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New probe launched into Swiss links with Apartheid regime

Samuel Schmid (l) is launching further investigations into Peter Regli's links with South Africa's Apartheid regime

The Defence Ministry is to launch a new investigation into suspected links between Switzerland's secret service and South Africa's former Apartheid regime.

The move comes after the ministry refused to make public the results of a smaller internal investigation, which it said found no evidence of collaboration between Swiss secret service and the Apartheid regime’s chemical weapons programme.

The new investigation, announced on Friday by the defence minister, Samuel Schmid, will probe allegations that the Swiss secret service had covert dealings with its counterpart in South Africa.

It is trying to establish whether the former head of Switzerland’s secret service, Peter Regli, was involved in the criminal activities of the Apartheid regime’s service, and if any documents relating to Swiss-South African intelligence cooperation are missing.

Illegal drugs

The allegations surfaced after the director of South Africa’s chemical weapons programme, Wouter Basson, claimed that Regli helped him to acquire 500 kilogrammes of an illegal drug, Mandrax, from Russia in 1992.

Basson made the allegations at a court hearing in Pretoria where he is on trial for murder, attempted murder and fraud.

The probe will also focus on Regli’s alleged purchase on two Russian air-defence missiles in 1994.

Schmid said previous investigations led by the defence ministry did not find any evidence that Regli was involved in Basson’s criminal activities in the chemical weapons programme. However, he added that there was a possibility that Regli destroyed important documents.

Legal assistance

As part of the new investigation, Switzerland will once again request legal assistance from South Africa, which has already provided documents relating to the Swiss secret service’s links to the Apartheid regime.

Schmid said results of the probe are not expected before June next year.

In a statement on Friday, Regli said he would fully support the Defence Ministry’s investigations, and he was confident the probe would clear his name.

“I expect investigators to be able to carry out their work unhindered and hope allegations by the media will finally stop. If there are further libel cases or accusations against me in the future, I will certainly take legal steps.”

Regli, who is now retired, has always denied the allegations against him.

Two years ago, a Swiss parliamentary investigation into alleged collaboration between the Swiss and South African secret services cleared Regli of involvement in South Africa’s weapons programme, and accepted Regli’s explanations that his contacts were “purely of an informative nature”.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR