Zuma loses bid to remove Downer from corruption trial

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Former president Jacob Zuma at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in KZN. PHOTO: AFP

The Pietermaritzburg High court has dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal its decision on state prosecutor advocate Billy Downer.

The arms deal corruption trial will resume on 11 April as was agreed between the parties, said Judge Piet Koen.

Zuma wanted Downer recused from the arms deal corruption trial, saying he lacked the independence and impartiality to prosecute in the trial.

Last year, Koen dismissed Zuma and his legal team’s special plea to have Downer removed from the trial. This led to Zuma’s legal team, led by advocate Dali Mpofu, to lodge an appeal and argue before Koen.

“The application to appeal and all related applications in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, are all dismissed. The criminal trial shall proceed on the date as set by parties,” Koen said.

Koen presented Zuma’s eight argument points separately, dismissing them and giving reasons why. One of the arguments argued by Mpofu alleged irregularities by the State and Koen.

Koen dismissed the allegation as “frivolous.”

Zuma faces multiple charges of fraud and corruption alongside French arms dealer Thales over the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal struck back when Zuma was KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development, in the 1990s.

Zuma and a representative of Thales pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The former president completed two presidency terms with the arms deal allegations hanging over his head.

Zuma was not in court on Wednesday.

The Citizen/Getrude Makhafola