JOHANNESBURG -- A former police colonel who confessed to a role in the death of antiapartheid activist Steve Biko and was convicted of killing several other opponents of white rule died in prison Friday.
Gideon Nieuwoudt, who was 54, had metastatic lung cancer, his lawyer told the South African Press Association.
Mr. Nieuwoudt was convicted of killing three black policemen and their informer in 1989, three antiapartheid activists in 1985, and numerous other opponents of white rule.
He admitted involvement in Biko's death, saying he hit the ''arrogant" activist with a rubber hose during an interrogation. Biko died of brain injuries in 1977 after the abuse in police custody.
Mr. Nieuwoudt repeatedly was refused amnesty by South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which pardoned about 1,000 people who confessed to their crimes as part of efforts to heal the wounds of apartheid.
He was awaiting the outcome of his latest application for amnesty -- for the 1989 car bomb killing of the three police and informer. He admitted placing explosives in the vehicles of the men, regarded as liabilities by their superiors.
A psychiatrist testifying at an amnesty hearing last year said Mr. Nieuwoudt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
''I think Mr. Nieuwoudt just killed too many people and it just became too much for him," said the psychiatrist, Peter Crafford.