Jacob Zuma faces corruption trial

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South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma, is to face prosecution for 16 charges of corruption, Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams has confirmed.

The charges – which Mr. Zuma denies – include counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering.

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Zuma, 75, was forced to resign as president last month by his party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

He was facing his ninth no-confidence vote in parliament before he left office.

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The charges relate to a 30bn rand ($2.5bn; £1.7bn) government arms deal in the late 1990s, before he became president.

According to agency report, French arms supplier, Thales will also face charges, a prosecutor said. Thales declined to comment.

Zuma is alleged to have sought bribes from Thales to support an extravagant lifestyle. His financial adviser at the time was found guilty of soliciting those bribes in 2005 and Zuma was later sacked as deputy president.

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He now faces one charge of racketeering, two charges of corruption, one charge of money laundering and 12 of fraud.

The head of the National Prosecuting Authority, said a trial court was the appropriate place for the matter to be decided.

He dismissed representations made by Zuma asking that the charges be dropped.

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The former ANC chief had argued that the charges against him were characterised by misconduct, “irrational behaviour” and media leaks on the part of prosecutors, Mr. Abrahams said.

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Mr. Zuma has always denied the allegations against him.

Milton Nkosi, BBC News, Johannesburg, noted,“as Jacob Zuma is no longer president, he cannot use state resources to support his defence. But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves – Mr. Zuma is known for fighting every single battle right until the end. Therefore, expect some pushback even after this heavy blow.

“He is, by law, allowed to challenge this decision. In other words, we might see a delay before any trial actually starts. And even when the trial begins, it will be long and drawn out.

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“But for now, his political enemies, particularly the opposition, are celebrating that he is closer to facing a judge in court than ever before.”

Zuma weathered an array of corruption allegations during his nine years in power.

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In 2016, a report by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog alleged that the billionaire Gupta family had exploited their ties with him to win state contracts.

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