The former South African president was not present on Tuesday, September 20, to resume his trial in the Thales affair. Jacob Zuma is charged with suspected bribery, which was perceived in the late 1990s, when he was vice chairman, as part of a weapons agreement with the French company. Today’s hearing focused on the state of health of the accused, who has been granted a suspended sentence in another case for a month.
as reported from Johannesburg, Claire Bargelès
The legal team around Jacob Zuma has not changed its strategy for this reopening of the trial: delaying the proceedings, at all costs, thanks to a battery of legal arguments.
First, by refusing, in the name of medical confidentiality, that detailed reports on the former president’s health be transmitted to the judge and prosecutor, and that independent experts investigate.
Because if Jacob Zuma is now on probation, after being hospitalized, the disease that overwhelmed him has never been named, and the reasons that prevent him from appearing in court are still very mysterious.
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The prosecutor, for his part, recalled that “presence in court is not optional” and indicates that its independent medical team considers the former head of state suitable to appear.
The defense also demands a challenge from the prosecutor, who is considered biased.
“I desperately want to continue this trial,” Judge Piet Koen said calmly at the beginning of the hearing, as the facts are back to 1999, and the benefits of the case have still not been addressed.
Hearings will resume on Wednesday at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.