Court grants delay in former President Jacob Zuma’s arms deal corruption trial

PUBLISHED: Tue, 20 Jul 2021 11:06:22 GMT
Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf
CAPE TOWN/SOUTH AFRICA, 10JUN2009 -Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Managing Director, World Bank, Washington DC; Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum, at the Opening Plenary on Africa and the New Global Economy at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, June 10, 2009 Copyright World Economic Forum / Matthew Jordaan

JOHANNESBURG, July 20 (Reuters) – A South African court granted former President Jacob Zuma’s request for a delay in his arms deal corruption trial on Tuesday, and adjourned proceedings for three weeks.

Zuma is accused of receiving kickbacks over a $2 billion arms deal from the 1990s. He pleaded not guilty in May to charges including corruption, fraud and money laundering.

He has evaded prosecution for more than a decade, and portrayed himself as the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Efforts to hold him to account are seen as a test of the country’s ability to hold powerful politicians to account.

“The trial is adjourned to 10-13 August 2021,” Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen said. He did not give the reasons why he allowed the delay.

Zuma has started a 15-month sentence for contempt of court.

He appeared before the Pietermaritzburg court virtually but stayed silent while his legal team argued that a postponement should be granted so that he could appear in person.

Zuma’s jailing this month triggered some of the worst unrest of the post-apartheid era. There were fears his latest court appearance could lead to a flare-up of violent protests from his support base. That has not materialised so far.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning and Wendell Roelf; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Timothy Heritage)

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