S.African court drops ex-president's plea for prosecutor's removal

Judge dismisses claims of bias against prosecutor Billy Downer in decision ex-President Zuma's lawyers plan to fight

Hassan Isilow   | 26.10.2021
S.African court drops ex-president's plea for prosecutor's removal


Former South African President Jacob Zuma lost on Tuesday a bid to have a senior state prosecutor removed from pursuing corruption trial against him.

Zuma, 79, had filed a special application to have prosecutor Billy Downer removed from the case, accusing him of bias and leaking vital information on him to the media.

"The special plea is dismissed, the matter is directed to proceed to trial," Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen said in a ruling.

He said there was no substantial evidence that would require Downer's removal from the case scheduled to start on April 11.

The former president is jointly accused with French arms firm Thales of 16 charges including corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion racketeering in the case linked to a $2.5 billion arms deal dating to the late 1990s.

Zuma and Thales both deny any wrongdoing.

Charges against Zuma were dropped in 2009 by former National Prosecuting Authority head Mokotedi Mpshe, weeks before he was elected president.

They were reinstated in 2018, marking one of the longest-running legal battles in the country. Zuma's lawyers say they will appeal against Tuesday's ruling.

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