A South African High Court seating in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday dismissed embattled former president Jacob Zuma’s special application to force a prosecutor in his multi-billion dollar arms scandal case to recuse himself from the trial.Zuma said he believed the corruption case might be compromised if Billy Downer was maintained as prosecutor, accusing the official of perceived bias against him.
Downer has been prosecuting the case since its beginning in the late 1990s.
Judge Piet Koen, however, dismissed Zuma’s plea to recuse Downer because the application lacked merit, and ruled that the arms scandal trial will start on 11 April 2022.
Zuma and French arms company Thales are facing charges of corruption, racketeering, and money laundering in connection with South Africa’s multi-billion-dollar arms deal in the 1990’s.
The former president faces some 16 counts, while Thales has four charges to answer.
Tuesday was the first time that Zuma attended a court hearing in the case since he underwent an operation in August while serving a 15-month prison term for contempt of court in a separate case in which he repeatedly refused to appear before a commission investigating high-level corruption during his tenure in office between 2008 and 2018.
He was subsequently granted medical parole, and then released to complete the sentence at his home.