South Africa: Zuma French Arms Bribe Trial to Begin in South Africa in May - Court

Former president Jacob Zuma (file photo).

A pre-trial hearing in South Africa has set former President Jacob Zuma's corruption trial to begin on 17 May. The trial refers to alleged bribes and corruption that Zuma carried out while serving as deputy president from 1999, and then as president from 2009 to 2018.

Zuma was not in court for the hearing, that was broadcast on local television, but he denied all charges in a previous hearing.

The alleged bribes and corruption are related to his time as deputy president and a $2 billion arms deal with Thales, a French defence company.

He is accused of taking €28,000 per year from Thales, beginning in 1999, as payment for protecting the company from a probe looking into their deal to supply military hardware to South Africa.

Of Covid-19 and the concerns around its impact on international witnesses' travels, Downer says they do not believe this reason to delay the trial further. #ZumaTrial - Bernadette Wicks (Wolhuter) (@bern_wicks) February 23, 2021

Thales, which was known as Thompson-CSF in 1999, indicated that it has no records nor information regarding their employees paying bribes.

Zuma faces 16 charges, include racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering.

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The high court asked for all who are accused of wrongdoing to be present in court on 17 May, noting that is only if representatives of Thales can fly to South Africa to attend the trial due to Covid-19 restrictions.

The trial is expected to last from May until June.

Notably, another South African corruption case in which Zuma is implicated is calling for him to be jailed for two years, as he defied a top court order and refused to appear, as well as give evidence.

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