A court in South Africa on Monday postponed the much-awaited arms deal corruption trial of former President Jacob Zuma.
Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen postponed the trial until May 17 pending the outcome of Zuma’s appeal to the Supreme Court to have the lead prosecutor in his case removed.
The former president’s lawyers want advocate Billy Downer removed from Zuma’s trial over claims he is biased towards the former president.
On Sunday, Zuma’s lawyers announced they would institute private prosecution against Downer for “unauthorized dissemination” of confidential information about Zuma’s medical condition.
Zuma, 80, did not appear in court on Tuesday as he was reportedly hospitalized. His foundation said he was currently undergoing tests, but did not mention at which hospital.
The former South African leader and Thales, a French arms firm, are jointly charged with 18 counts of corruption, money laundering, tax evasion, and racketeering in connection with a $2.5 billion arms deal in the late 1990s. They both deny any wrongdoing.
Charges against Zuma were dropped in 2009 by former National Prosecuting Authority head Mokotedi Mpshe weeks before he was elected president. The charges were, however, reinstated in 2018, marking one of the longest-running legal battles in the country.