Item 834 - Statement by the Office of the President on Dr Di Blasi

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Statement by the Office of the President on Dr Di Blasi


  • 1997-07-04 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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South African Government Information Website

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On releasing Dr Di Blasi

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  • English

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On 2 July 1997 the President considered representations made to him to exercise his constitutional or statutory powers to secure the release of one Dr Di Blasi, a prisoner held at Pollsmoor Prison.

The President had received representations from a legal team instructed by a third party, as well as the representations of a Deputy to the Italian Parliament, the Honourable Prof Lento. Their representations were based on the unanimous view of the four medical and psychiatric practitioners who have treated Dr Di Blasi or have been responsible for his care. These practitioners have expressed the opinion that they are not able to adequately treat his mental condition and his suicidal frame of mind so long as he was incarcerated. Dr Di Blasi, as the President was advised, has been refusing to eat since 2 June 1997.

The President carefully considered the following factors and circumstances: the conviction and original sentence imposed upon him for the murder of his ex-wife, Francesca Gobbi, at Hout Bay on 6 September 1992; his release on parole in 1995; and his re-incarceration following the decision of the Appellate Division on 21 September 1995, the substance of which was to set aside the original sentence of 4 years' imprisonment and to substitute for it a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment. The Appellate Division, in its unanimous judgment, had seen fit to emphasise the aspects of deterrence and retribution in formulating an appropriate sentence for a crime of this kind, if the administration of justice was not to be brought into disrepute.

The President having considered these factors and circumstances decided that it would not be prudent to intervene in this matter by allowing for Dr Di Blasi's release so soon after the Appellate Division had decided that the original sentence of 4 years' imprisonment was "shockingly inappropriate" and reflected insufficient regard to Dr Di Blasi's moral blameworthiness and the interests of society.

While the President carefully considered the medical reports relating to Dr Di Blasi's current condition, he also noted that Dr Di Blasi would be eligible to be considered for parole in April 1998, and that his current refusal to eat could not be allowed to determine the outcome of the application for a pardon or similar relief. The Office of the President, on behalf of the President, will request the Commissioner of Correctional Services, however, to take note of the medical opinions on Dr Di Blasi's condition and, within his department's capacities, treat him in the light thereof.

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Acquisition method: From website ; Source: South African Government Information Website. Accessioned on 20/12/06 by Helen Joannides




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