'Prime Evil,' pro-apartheid assassin, granted parole

South Africa's 'Prime Evil' gets parole
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Story highlights

  • Eugene de Kock had been sentenced to two life sentences, plus 212 years
  • Official granted parole, noting he cooperated with Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Pretoria, South Africa (CNN)Eugene de Kock was the most notorious assassin of South Africa's apartheid era, commanding a death squad that kidnapped, tortured and killed black activists.

His nickname: Prime Evil.
    But de Kock showed remorse, meeting with victims' families, some of whom publicly forgave him, and helping the Missing Persons Task Force locate bodies, a fact noted by South African Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha.
    "In the interests of nation building and reconciliation," Masutha said Friday, he was granting parole to de Kock.
    De Kock was a police officer who ran the C10 counterinsurgency unit, designed to battle the foes of apartheid, including members of the African National Congress. He operated from Vlakplaas, a farm outside Pretoria.
    When apartheid fell and the ANC gained control of the government, de Kock cooperated with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, established in 1994 to achieve full disclosure of apartheid-era misdeeds.
    De Kock was convicted of murders, such as the deaths of five unarmed people in a van in 1992, and many other crimes. He was sentenced in 1996 after an 18-month trial. South Africa doesn't have the death penalty.
    In asking for a mitigated sentence, de Kock said the unit he commanded "was established with the full knowledge and approval of senior government officials and police generals," according to the ANC's webpage.
    Masutha granted de Kock's request that the date and conditions of his parole not be made public.