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South Africa’s Zuma in fresh bid to drop graft trial prosecutor

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 Former South African President Jacob Zuma returned to court on Monday in a new bid to replace the chief prosecutor in his long running corruption trial over an arms deal in the 1990s Supreme Court Justice Piet Koen last year rejected Zuma s request to remove prosecutor Billy Downer from the case Zuma had argued that the hellip
South Africa’s Zuma in fresh bid to drop graft trial prosecutor

NNN: Former South African President Jacob Zuma returned to court on Monday in a new bid to replace the chief prosecutor in his long-running corruption trial over an arms deal in the 1990s.

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Supreme Court Justice Piet Koen last year rejected Zuma’s request to remove prosecutor Billy Downer from the case.

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Zuma had argued that the state prosecutor was neither independent nor impartial.

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Returning to court, Zuma requested leave to appeal the earlier ruling, a request that could delay the resumption of the trial if granted.

The case is scheduled to resume on April 11.

Defense attorney Dali Mpofu said on Monday that Zuma had a “strong view” that his case was being “treated differently” from others.

“If we talk about law, let’s talk about law, let’s not have the Zuma law, let’s not have laws that are reserved only for him,” Mpofu said in a hearing broadcast live on television.

Zuma, who appeared in court in the southeastern city of Pietermaritzburg on Monday, faces 16 counts of fraud, bribery and extortion related to the purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms companies.

The accusation arises from a contract that was sealed in 1999, when he was vice president.

Zuma is accused of taking bribes from one of the companies, French defense giant Thales, which has also been accused of corruption and money laundering.

Both have denied any wrongdoing.

The trial began in May after repeated postponements as Zuma’s legal team fought to have the charges dropped.

Mpofu accused the prosecution of “unnecessarily” delaying the trial.

“Zuma should never be accused of delaying justice when he is only asserting (his rights),” Mpofu said.

The sentence on his request for a new prosecutor will be issued on February 16.

Zuma, who turns 80 on April 12, was president from 2009 to 2018.

He was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) when corruption scandals surrounding his government turned into a political firestorm.

Last year he received a 15-month prison sentence for contempt of court after refusing to testify before a panel investigating the “state capture,” financial sleaze and cronyism that proliferated under his presidency.

He was released for health reasons two months after the term.

Source Credit: TheGuardian

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