South Africa ruling opens way for apartheid-era prosecutions

A former South African police officer will face trial over the 1971 killing of an anti-apartheid activist after a court ruling that could lead to the prosecution of similar crimes.

The high court in Johannesburg on Monday dismissed 80-year-old Joao Rodrigues' application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

An inquiry had been reopened into the death of Ahmed Timol, who police said jumped to his death from a police station where opponents of white minority rule were often held.

Timol's family argued he was tortured and killed. A court agreed, paving the way for Rodrigues to face trial.

A National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman says Monday's ruling affirms that people who committed crimes during the apartheid era cannot dodge prosecution on the basis of how long ago the crimes took place.