South Africa’s Zuma to appeal decision to deny permanent stay of corruption charges

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Former South African president Jacob Zuma will appeal a high court decision to deny him a permanent stay of prosecution on charges related to a $2 billion arms deal, his lawyers said on Tuesday.

Zuma, in office from 2009-2018, had applied for a permanent stay of prosecution for alleged fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the deal to buy European military hardware for South Africa’s armed forces in the 1990s.

On Friday the Pietermaritzburg High Court dismissed the application by Zuma and his co-accused, French arms company Thales.

“Mr Zuma elects to exercise the full extent of his constitutional rights, which includes the right to appeal (this).. decision,” a lawyer for Zuma told the court.

The appeal application must be filed within 15 days of last Friday’s decision.

State prosecutor Billy Downer said the state intended to oppose the appeal, potentially triggering another delay that could push any trial well into 2020.

Zuma’s lawyers and state prosecutors agreed to provisionally set down Feb. 4, 2020 as a trial start date.