South African court rules Zuma's corruption case to continue

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma, sits in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Tuesday Oct. 26, 2021. Zuma has demanded to be acquitted of corruption charges because of the alleged abuse he has suffered at the hands of his prosecutors. He is in court facing charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, Pool)

JOHANNESBURG – Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s effort to get a prosecutor removed from his corruption case has been dismissed by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

Zuma filed a special application to have prosecutor Billy Downer taken off his case, accusing him of bias.

Judge Piet Koen on Tuesday dismissed Zuma’s application, paving the way for the corruption case against the former president to proceed. The trial will continue on April 11, 2022, said the judge.

“I conclude that Mr. Zuma’s complaints, even if taken at face value, do not affect the title of Mr. Downer to prosecute,” said Koen delivering the judgment.

Zuma’s legal representatives said they will study the ruling to determine whether or not they will appeal the judgment.

Zuma faces charges of corruption, fraud and money laundering related to the country’s controversial arms purchase in 1999. He is accused of receiving bribes from French arms company Thales through his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of related charges in 2005.

“This has been quite a protracted process that now needs to come to an end,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told reporters outside court on Tuesday, speaking of Zuma's efforts to get the prosecutor dismissed and other tactics to delay the trial.

Zuma, 79, attended the court proceedings in one of his first public appearances since he was released from jail in September. He was released on medical parole after serving nearly two months of his 15-month jail sentence for defying an order of the Constitutional Court to testify at an investigation into corruption during his time as president from 2009 to 2018.