South Africa’s Zuma delays corruption trial with appeal
South Africa’s embattled former president Jacob Zuma has appealed a court decision to try him for corruption, a judicial spokeswoman said Sunday, delaying yet again a long-awaited date with justice.
Zuma is alleged to have taken bribes during a 1990s arms deal with five European companies, including the French defence group Thales.
If the trial takes place, it would be the first time Zuma faces a court on graft charges, despite a string of accusations over his long political career.
But in the latest twist to a 15-year-old judicial saga, prosecution spokeswoman Natasha Kara told AFP: “I can confirm that Mr. Zuma has indeed filed the application for leave to appeal on Friday.”
That was the last day on which Zuma could have appealed an October 15 court rejection of his request to have 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering dismissed.
Zuma was forced to resign as president last year by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party after a nine-year reign marred by corruption allegations and dwindling popularity.
He is accused of taking bribes worth four million rand ($270,000, 240,000 euros) when he was deputy president from a 51-billion-rand ($3.4-billion) 1999 arms purchase.
Both Zuma and Thales, which supplied equipment for navy vessels, deny the charges.
The former president has dismissed the case as a “witchhunt”.
Since he was first accused of involvement in the affair in 2003, Zuma has avoided judicial penalties, while his financial advisor at the time was convicted of corruption in 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
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