Former President P.W. Botha was convicted Friday of ignoring a subpoena to testify about apartheid atrocities.
A black magistrate gave apartheid's last hard-line president a one-year suspended jail sentence and ordered him to pay a $1,577 fine for ignoring the summons from South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Magistrate Victor Lugaju could have sentenced the 82-year-old Botha to two years in prison, but said he took into account Botha's age and frail health.
Lugaju criticized Botha for his refusal to cooperate with the commission that was investigating abuses, including murder and torture, carried out under his rule.
"Right through the proceedings, the accused has shown no remorse," Lugaju said in his ruling at the end of a trial that underscored South Africa's simmering racial divisions.
State prosecutor Bruce Morrison had asked for a fine of $9,463, but because of Botha's age, did not seek a prison term.
"Had the accused been 30 or 40 years younger, the state would have asked for imprisonment to be imposed," he said.