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SA court issues arrest warrant for ex-prez in graft trial

SA court issues arrest warrant for ex-prez in graft trial
Jacob Zuma (File)
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 4 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 2/4/2020 9:43:35 AM IST

A South African court issued an arrest warrant for former president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday, after he skipped court on grounds of needing medical treatment, but the judge stayed the warrant until his corruption trial resumes on May 6.

Zuma’s lawyer presented the judge with a sick note from what he said was a military hospital, but Judge Dhaya Pillay questioned whether the note was valid, as there was no medical number showing if and where the doctor was certified. “I don’t even know if [he] ... is a doctor. There is ... nothing to suggest that he is,” she said, before issuing the warrant.

The former leader is on trial on 18 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a $2 billion arms deal with French defense firm Thales in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president. He rejects the allegations as a politically motivated witch-hunt.

Pillay concluded that the note was insufficient to excuse Zuma from appearing for the trial, but gave him until it resumes on May 6 to turn up before the warrant kicks in. Zuma, president from 2009-2018, had previously applied for a permanent stay of prosecution but the court in Pietermaritzburg threw out his appeal in November.

He is accused of accepting 500,000 rand ($34,000) annually from Thales in 1999, in exchange for protecting the company from an investigation into the deal.

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