South African Court Vetos Zuma Bid to Fire Case Prosecutor
South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma lost his legal bid to have the state prosecutor in his corruption trial dismissed on the grounds that he wasn’t independent and impartial.
Zuma, 79, stands accused of soliciting bribes from arms dealers in the 1990s, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His lawyers argued that the entire National Prosecuting Authority team led by Billy Downer lacked credibility and couldn’t be given the responsibility of presenting evidence against him.
“It has not been shown that Mr Zuma’s rights to a constitutionally fair trial have been impaired, or that there is a real possibility that his rights will be impaired,” High Court Judge Piet Koen said Tuesday in the eastern town of Pietermaritzburg, dismissing the application to remove Downer as prosecutor.
The former president also accused Downer of leaking sensitive information on his case to the media, including a confidential medical report that had been given to the state prosecutor.
The matter which has spanned almost two decades will now continue on April 11. The former president’s legal team hinted that they may make a submission to the court before the resumption of the trial leaving the door open for a challenge to Tuesday’s judgment.
Zuma was separately convicted of contempt of court in June for defying an order to testify before a judicial panel that’s probing graft during his nine-year rule, and handed a 15-month jail term. He was freed on medical parole in September after serving just two months.
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