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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

Zuma loses bid to remove Downer from corruption trial

Judge Koen ordered that the arms deal corruption trial resume in April.

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 previously agreed between the parties, said Judge Piet Koen.

He said Zuma’s application had no prospect of success.

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The former president 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 the former president’s legal team, led by advocate Dali Mpofu, to lodge an appeal.

“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.

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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 he 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.

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