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Ex-South African official cleared of misusing funds

Dr. Eschel Rhoodie, formerly a top South African government civil servant, has been cleared of misuse of government funds in the country's "information scandal," Monitor correspondent Gary Thatcher reports.

Dr. Rhoodie headed the Department of Information, overseeing an extensive influence-buying program to try to counter South Africa's poor worldwide image arising from its discriminatory racial policies. A government commission investigating the secret expenditure of millions of dollars in government funds found him involved in "irregularities . . . which point to theft as well as complicity in theft and fraud. . . ."

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The South African appeals court, in setting aside his conviction, found that Dr. Rhoodie's waging of a "psychological and propaganda war" called for "unconventional" procedures. It said his explanations for the unorthodox use of state funds could, "at least, be reasonably possibly true."

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