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South Africa high court says judge tried to influence Zuma corruption case

[JURIST] The judges of the Constitutional Court of South Africa [official website] have filed a complaint [text, DOC] with the country's judicial disciplinary body, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) [backgrounder, DOC], alleging that the top judge in the Cape High Court unconstitutionally attempting to influence Constitutional Court judges in a pending corruption case against African National Congress (ANC) leader Jacob Zuma [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. According to the judges, Judge John Hlophe violated the constitution [text, Schedule 2, Item 6] by administering justice with favor or prejudice, and in doing so jeopardized South African justice and democracy. The Constitutional Court statement echoes a case last year when members of the Cape Bar called for Hlophe's resignation after an investigation found he failed to disclose that he accepted money from a case party and then ruled in its favor. A hearing date before the JSC is still undetermined [SAPA report]. The Guardian has more.

Hlophe's alleged unconstitutional behavior is in connection with a March hearing to determine whether raids on Zuma's home violated his rights to privacy and a fair trial [JURIST report]. Zuma has been facing corruption allegations [BBC timeline] and other charges for several years; he was first charged with corruption in 2005, but those charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] because prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures. In December 2007, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority [official website] served an indictment [JURIST report] on Zuma, charging him with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering related to alleged bribes received from arms manufacturer Thint, a subsidiary of the France-based Thales Group [corporate website]. His trial is scheduled to begin in August. As leader of the ruling ANC, Zuma is in a position to become the country's next president when current South African President Thabo Mbeki retires.

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