Zuma’s Trial Postponed After He Petitions to Drop Charges
A corruption trial of former South African president Jacob Zuma has been postponed until October, after Zuma asked the case to be dropped over political interference and an “overzealous” investigation into his wrongdoing.
“I may not like Mr Zuma myself, I may not like him. The question I ask myself is, can Mr Zuma, can your son and mine be accused today of anything? Should they be dealt with outside of the four corners of the Constitution because they are suspected of having done what we don’t like?” said Zuma’s lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane, to the court on Monday morning.
The corruption proceedings against Zuma surround a controversial deal that he cut in the late 1990s with French arms company Thales over a US$180 million government contract to build four frigates for South Africa’s navy.
State prosecutors say that Zuma extracted a bribe of nearly US$35,000 in exchange for the contract, as “protection money.”
In 2005, Sabir Shaik, a South African businessman who was Jacob Zuma’s financial advisor during his trial, was sentenced to 15 years in prison over the deal.
Thales, which is set to be tied to Zuma, said meanwhile that it did not expect to get a fair trial.
“Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure--through no fault of Thales at all--together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial, as it is entitled to under the South African Constitution and international law,” said the company’s spokesperson, Cédric Leurquin.
“Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the combat systems for South Africa’s corvettes (the Arms Deal in 1999).”