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South Africa court rejects Zuma appeal to prevent corruption trial

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 15, 2019 South Africa’s embattled former president Jacob Zuma (C) appears in the Pietermaritzburg High Court where he is appearing on corruption charges, in what would be the first time he faces trial for graft despite multiple accusations, in Pietermaritzburg. – A South African court on November 29, 2019, dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s attempts to appeal against his corruption trial related to a 1990s arms deal. (Photo by Michele Spatari / POOL / AFP)

A South African court on Friday rejected an appeal by former President Jacob Zuma that sought to prevent his prosecution on corruption charges over a 2 billion dollars arms deal.
The ruling paves the way for Zuma’s long-awaited trial to start in Feb. 2020.

Zuma, in office from 2009 to 2018, had previously applied for a permanent stay of prosecution on 18 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to an arms deal with French defense firm Thales in the 1990s.

In mid-October, the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed an application by Zuma and Thales for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Zuma appealed against it, but on Friday the court struck out his appeal.

Zuma is accused of accepting 500,000 rands (34,000 dollars) annually from Thales in 1999, in exchange for protecting the company from an investigation into the deal.
He rejects the allegations as a politically motivated “witch-hunt” against him.

Thales, known as Thompson-CSF in 1999, has said it had no knowledge of any transgressions by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contracts.

The National Prosecuting Authority initially filed the charges against Zuma a decade ago but set them aside shortly before Zuma successfully ran for president in 2009.
Following appeals and lobbying by opposition parties, the NPA reinstated the charges in March 2018.


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