Zuma’s request to have the Graft Prosecutor removed was denied by the court.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma’s effort to have the top prosecutor in his long-running corruption prosecution over a 1990s arms sale dismissed by a South African court on Tuesday.
Zuma had requested that state prosecutor Billy Downer be removed from the investigation because he was not independent nor impartial, according to Zuma.
Judge Piet Koen, sitting at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, said he wasn’t “persuaded that Mr Downer lacks the title to prosecute or should be removed as prosecutor.”
“On the evidence before me, it has not been established that Mr Zuma’s constitutionally protected right to a fair trial has been harmed, or that his rights are likely to be harmed,” he stated.
He ordered Zuma and his co-accused, the French arms corporation Thales, to return to court on April 11, 2022, for a resumption of the trial regarding an arms purchase made in 1999, while he was deputy president.
Zuma, who was present in court to hear Koen’s judgment, is charged with 16 counts of fraud, graft, and racketeering in connection with the acquisition of fighter jets, patrol boats, and other equipment from five European arms companies.
He is accused of accepting payments from one of the companies, French defense company Thales, which is itself facing corruption and money laundering charges.
Both have categorically denied any misconduct.
Zuma’s legal team fought to have the charges withdrawn, and the trial began in May after repeated postponements.
Zuma, who is 79 years old, was released from prison in September owing to ill health, two months into a 15-month term for refusing to cooperate with a graft probe into his administration from 2009 to 2018.