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South Africa court rejects Zuma bid to exclude evidence in corruption case

[JURIST] The South African Constitutional Court [official website] on Thursday rejected a motion [opinion, PDF; opinion summary] by politician Jacob Zuma [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] to exclude evidence from his upcoming corruption trial. Zuma had argued [JURIST report] that evidence seized in 2005 raids by the Directorate of Special Investigations [official backgrounder; BBC report] should be thrown out because the raids violated his rights to privacy and a fair trial. The court upheld the validity of the warrants used in the raids, confirming a November 2007 decision [JURIST report] by the South African Supreme Court of Appeal, explaining:

[T]he application for the warrants, the terms of the warrants themselves, and their subsequent execution were lawful, in view of the applicable common-law, statutory and constitutional principles. For that reason, although the applications for leave to appeal are granted, the appeals themselves are refused and the judgments of the Supreme Court of Appeal appealed against are confirmed.
The court also held [opinion, PDF; summary] that papers obtained by the Mauritius government [JURIST report] believed to document meetings between Zuma and arms manufacturer Thint were also admissible. Reuters has more. The Mail and Guardian has local coverage.

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 Thint, a subsidiary of the France-based Thales Group [corporate website]. His trial is scheduled to begin in August. Zuma has said that the charges against him are part of a politically motivated effort by outgoing President Thabo Mbeki [official profile] to upset his plans to run in the 2009 presidential election.

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