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Embattled Zuma seeks court’s help to remove ‘biased’ prosecutor

The defence team for former South African president Jacob Zuma returned to Pietermaritzburg High Court for the second day on…

The defence team for former South African president Jacob Zuma returned to Pietermaritzburg High Court for the second day on Wednesday to fight for the removal of a “biased prosecutor” in the arms deal scandal he is facing, APA has learnt.Zuma faces 16 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering, and his co-accused, French arms company Thales, is facing four counts in the scandal, according to court records. 

Zuma wants state prosecutor Billy Downer to recuse himself from the case involving the purchase of arms from Thales by the South African government in 1999 when he was deputy president.

His legal team pointed out 12 instances in which they believed Downer acted improperly as well as cases in which the National Prosecuting Authority was an alleged party to political meddling in the matter. 

Thabani Masuku, a lawyer acting for Zuma, argued that Downer had become so invested in the case over the past 20 years that he was no longer impartial. 

Another Zuma lawyer, Dali Mpofu, accused Downer of alleged leaking a copy of Zuma’s medical report to a journalist before it was filed in court.

State prosecutor Wim Trengove, however, argued that there was “no such evidence that Downer ever leaked confidential material to the media.”

Zuma, who is still under medical care in a hospital in Gauteng province following an operation, opted not to apply for a postponement of the case but rather to follow proceedings virtually.

On Tuesday judge Piet Koen agreed, and ruled that the application to recuse would continue in the former president’s absence for convenience’s sake.

Hearing of the case continues.

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