South African high court rejects Zuma’s push to dismiss prosecutor

A high court in South Africa has dismissed an application by former president Jacob Zuma to have a lead prosecutor removed from this corruption and racketeering trial.

In his application Mr Zuma had accused Billy Downer of being biased against him and leaking his private medical records to the media – claims that were not proven.

The former president has avoided prosecution for almost two decades over charges of allegedly receiving kickbacks from French arms company Thales relating to a $2bn (£1.4bn) weapons contract. Both Mr Zuma and Thales have denied the charges.

In the Pietermaritzburg High Court, Judge Piet Koen found that there was no basis to claims made by Mr Zuma that he would not have a fair trial unless Mr Downer was removed.

He also dismissed the argument that Mr Downer did not have the title to prosecute – saying he was constitutionally mandated to lead prosecutions in South Africa.

The judge lamented the numerous delays to the trial, saying that in the interests of justice the matter should be heard as soon as possible.

Mr Zuma’s legal team has said it intends to appeal against the latest ruling in a higher court.