Publication: Saturday Independent Issued: Date: 2001-08-10 Reporter: John Matisonn Editor:

Arms Deal Witness Asks for More Time

Publication  Saturday Independent
Date 2001-08-10
Reporter John Matisonn
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The only witness before the inquiry into the R43-billion arms deal who has objected to the arms acquisition process is to ask for a postponement of his scheduled Tuesday appearance after lawyers' letters warning him against defaming a winning bidder and breaching confidentiality.

Dr Richard Young, founder and Chief Executive Officer of CI, who complained to the public protector that he unfairly lost one of the arms subcontracts to a sister company of African Defence Systems (ADS), whose shareholders and directors include arms acquisition chief Chippy Shaik's brother Shabir, has been put down for three days of evidence.

Lawyers for ADS wrote to Young this week reserving the company's rights if Young defames ADS, or reveals information contained in the contracts he did receive, which contain confidentiality clauses.

Young has said the letters have led him to ask for a postponement to give himself extra time to prepare his response.

He is likely to be either the last or the penultimate witness in the hearing, chaired by the public protector, Advocate Selby Baqwa.

After first being expected to last for at least a month of continuous evidence, the hearings have been adjourned several times and the date for the report to parliament has been extended several times. The report was originally expected last month.

Before Young was invited to testify, he was asked by the public protector's office to agree not to sue the government over the issue.

Young has replied that while his right to sue is independent of the inquiry, the action he expects from the investigators "will render such action unnecessary".

Baqwa was out of town attending his brother's funeral, and the request for a postponement is expected to be considered next week.  

With acknowledgement to John Matisonn and the Independent on Saturday.