Former President P.W. Botha was found guilty Friday of ignoring a summons from a panel investigating apartheid-era atrocities. He was given a suspended prison sentence and fined.
The ruling brings an end to a trial that has underscored South Africa's simmering racial divisions."The failure of the accused to appear . . . was unlawful, intentional and without sufficient cause," Magistrate Victor Lugaju said in his ruling, which took 50 minutes to read.
The magistrate ordered Botha to pay a fine of $1,577 or spend 12 months in prison. He also gave Botha a 12-month prison term, suspended for five years on condition that Botha comply with any future summons.
"Right through the proceedings, the accused has shown no remorse," said the magistrate.
Botha, 82, could have received up to two years in jail for ignoring the subpoena from South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Botha, who smiled and joked with friends after the sentencing, left the courtroom without comment. Demonstrators outside jeered him as he left.
His lawyers filed a notice of appeal, and Botha was released on a bail of $8.
State prosecutor Bruce Morrison had asked for a fine of $9,463 and a suspended prison sentence, arguing that Botha was disrupting the commission's attempts to promote racial healing in South Africa.