Zuma’s trial takes a nasty turn

1 July - Fraud and corruption case against South Africa's ruling party - African National Congress (ANC) - president Jacob Zuma took a nasty turn yesterday when Mauritius Supreme Court rejected an application by his legal team to stop the use of certain documents as evidence against him.

Court ruled out that use of documents held in Mauritius, as evidence, would not compromise Mr Zuma’s rights.

Ruling is said to be a blow to ANC president’s legal team, which has been trying to weaken state’s case or have it dismissed from court.

The defence team now has to pin its hopes on a pending Constitutional Court judgment on legality of warrants issued in 2005 for raids on Zuma’s home and those of his associates, and on a Pietermaritzburg High Court application.

His lawyer, Michael Hulley, said yesterday that his team would decide today how to go ahead, considering present state of affairs.

“We are busy studying ruling and will consult with our two counsel in Mauritius and my client (Zuma) as to next course of action,” Mr Hulley said.

South African National Prosecuting Authority spokesman, Tlali Tlali has said, “we welcome this development which is a positive outcome for us and the process as a whole in resolving any and all other outstanding legal hurdles.”

Mr Tlali added, “NPA remains resolute on its decision and would like to have an opportunity to present its case before court.”

Constitutional Court case has already attracted controversy with Cape Judge President John Hlophe, accused of trying to sway two judges to rule in favour of ANC president.

Justice Hlophe has filed a reply to judges’ complaint against him with Judicial Service Commission yesterday.

The Pietermaritzburg case is a bid by Zuma’s lawyers to have his case withdrawn before his August 14 corruption trial on grounds the investigation is a thinly veiled attempt to exclude him from politics.

The 14 documents held by Mauritian authorities include infamous encrypted fax allegedly soliciting a R1 million bribe from French arms company Thint for Mr Zuma, and 2000 diary of former Thint chief executive officer Alain Thetard, which documents meetings between Mr Thetard, Mr Zuma and convicted businessman Schabir Shaik, during which a R500,000-a-year bribe was allegedly discussed. Mr Shaik is serving 15 years in prison for corruption and fraud.

In a judgment issued yesterday, Mauritian Judge Rehana Mungly-Gulbul said court could not refuse to hand over documents simply because there was a risk of Mr Zuma being prosecuted as a result.

On ANC president’s allegations of “political persecution”, Justice Mungly-Gulbul said such allegations would need to be “thrashed out in an open court of a full hearing (in SA) and not on mere affidavit evidence”.

Copies of disputed documents were used to prosecute Mr Shaik, but NPA is now requesting originals, which were retained by Mauritius’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.

ANC Youth League and South African Communist Party have stated they will throw their weight behind Mr Zuma, who they claim is being persecuted for political reasons.

The popular ANC president, who will possibly succeed in South Africa’s presidency, has been in and out of a court-room since falling out with ruling party elites two years ago.

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