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South Africa court delays Zuma corruption trial until after election

[JURIST] South Africa's Pietermaritzburg High Court announced Wednesday that the corruption trial of African National Congress (ANC) [political website] leader Jacob Zuma [BBC profile, JURIST news archive] and arms dealer Thint would be delayed [timetable, PDF] until after the country's presidential election. The agreement calls for Zuma to apply for permanent stay of prosecution on May 18, and oral argument is scheduled for Aug. 25. The election will be held between April and June, and Zuma is favored [AFP report] to become president. Zuma plans to appeal to the Constitutional Court of South Africa [official website] the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa [official website] to reinstate the charges, which had been invalidated [JURIST reports] in September 2008. The ANC expressed strong support [press release] for Zuma, referring to the criminal proceedings as "the injustices he has now suffered for far too long."

Zuma was ousted [JURIST report] as the country’s deputy president in 2005 after an aide was convicted of corruption. He was also charged with rape, but ultimately acquitted and reinstated [JURIST report] as ANC deputy vice president. In July 2008, the South African Constitutional Court rejected a motion [JURIST report] by Zuma to exclude evidence from the corruption trial. Zuma had argued [JURIST report] that evidence seized in 2005 raids by the Directorate of Special Investigations should be thrown out because the raids violated his rights to privacy and a fair trial. The court upheld the warrants used in the raids, confirming a November 2007 decision [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court of Appeal. He was first charged with corruption in 2005, but those charges were later dismissed [JURIST report] because prosecutors failed to follow proper procedures.

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