War hero: I was a mercenary
17:12 - (SA)
Swellendam - A highly decorated South African former air
force officer Friday admitted to involvement in "mercenary
activities" in Ivory Coast's civil war which sliced the west
African nation in two.
Carl Alberts, who was awarded the Honoris Crux, apartheid
South Africa's highest honour for bravery for his role in the
Angolan war, told a magistrate's court in the southwestern
town of Swellendam that he was guilty of the charge brought
against him, the SAPA news agency reported.
Alberts was sentenced to two years in prison, or a
R20 000 ($3 000) fine. Half the sentence was
The 49-year-old pilot was freed after paying R10 000.
Makhosini Nkosi, a spokesperson for South Africa's
Scorpions investigating unit, said the the plea and fine were
part of a bargain agreed by Alberts and Scorpions prosecutors.
Alberts was charged with contravening the 1998 Foreign
Military Assistance Act which makes it an offence for South
Africans to fight as mercenaries.
The first person to be arrested under the Foreign Military
Assistance Act was French-born Francois Richard Rouget, who
had recruited South Africans to fight as mercenaries in
Rouget was sentenced to five years in prison or a
R100 000 (US$13 300) fine in August last year after
pleading guilty to involvement in mercenary activities in
"I acted only out of friendship with the Ivory Coast
government... I still do not believe it was a crime as I acted
at the request of a legitimate government," Rouget told a
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has promised former
colonial ruler France - which has deployed a peacekeeping
force to act as a buffer between the government forces and
rebels and to monitor a ceasefire - that he would order out
Edited by Tisha Steyn
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