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Zuma trial: justice rejects the request of the French group Thales

Mr Zuma is accused of receiving 218,000 euros (nearly four million rand) in bribes as part of a global contract of around 2.8 billion euros with the French defense giant and aerospace.

Thales, who is also accused of corruption, extortion and money laundering in this case, had challenged in 2020 the accusation of extortion pointing to a lack of evidence.

But a court dismissed the request on Friday, the South African National Prosecutor’s Office (NPA) said, removing one of the last legal obstacles to the trial. The first auditions are due to start next month.

“The NPA welcomes the decision of the High Court of Pietermaritzburg (East, Editor’s note), to reject the request of the French armaments group Thales”, declared in a statement published via WhatsApp its spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema.

Thales South Africa told . “take note” of the decision and “study the judgment and legal options for possible further measures”.

The group “will defend itself from all charges during the trial,” he added in an email response.

Jacob Zuma as well as the French group, which will be defended by Barry Roux, the former lawyer of the ex-star of the disabled sprint Oscar Pistorius, have always denied any illegal act, trying on several occasions to legally delay the procedure.

Originally scheduled for May 2020, the trial was postponed four times last year, for legal reasons and because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is due to start on February 23.

The former president was pushed in 2018 to resign by the ANC, his own party, after nine years in office marked by declining popularity and multiple accusations of corruption.

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