Zuma loses bid as trial looms
Thu, 31 Jul 2008 13:52
Jacob Zuma, presidential hopeful and leader of South Africa’s ruling ANC party, Thursday lost a legal bid to prevent documents seized in police raids being used in evidence at his graft trial.
The Constitutional Court upheld an earlier ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal, which rejected Zuma’s challenge against the use of documents seized at his home and those of his lawyers at his corruption trial which opens Monday.
“All the applicants’ challenges to the search and seizure operations failed,” Chief Justice Pius Langa found in a majority judgment.
The judge said the court found “nothing untoward” in a raid conducted by South Africa’s “Scorpions” crime-fighting unit on Zuma’s home in August 2005, and ordered Zuma to pay legal costs in the case.
Zuma (66), was on Thursday on an official visit to Mozambique, but in a swift reaction to the ruling, his African National Congress party said it respected the decision of the court but expressed doubts he would get a fair trial.
It said the manner his case has been handled by the authorities “reinforced the perception that the ANC President is being persecuted rather than merely prosecuted.”
“It has also fuelled doubts about his chances of receiving a fair hearing,’ it said.
ANC leaders and supporters would rally outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday to show their support for Zuma, the party said.
Zuma had early this year asked the Constitutional Court to declare illegal the searches carried out on his home, and his lawyers’ offices, in which a total of 93,000 documents were reportedly seized.
The Supreme Court of Appeal had in November declared valid the searches, a ruling which paved the way for Zuma to be charged with corruption last December 28, shortly after he was elected ANC president.
Zuma faces 16 charges ranging from money-laundering to racketeering following an inquiry that also implicated French arms firm, Thales. He has always maintained his innocence.
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