Arms deal inquiry postponed to March

2015-02-02 12:24
The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

The commission is investigating allegations of corruption in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal. (AFP)

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Pretoria - The inquiry into the multi-billion rand arms deal was adjourned on Monday when arms deal critic and losing bidder Richard Young did not appear before the commission in Pretoria.

Young asked the commission to postpone his appearance to March, in a submission read out by advocate Tshepo Sibeko.

"Dr Young says he requests that he be given a postponement as his statement is not finalised. He therefore would not be in a position to present his evidence," said Sibeko.

Commission chairperson Judge Willie Seriti asked Sibeko if Young would ever appear in front of the commission.

"Dr Young was subpoenaed to come... he did not come... will we ever succeed to bring him here to give his evidence? We were told he was the only person who could testify about the corruption. Will he ever come here?" Seriti asked.

New dates

He set the new dates of 4 to 10 March for Young to attend.

"We now have to rearrange the dates because Young is not here. March 4 is his new date and if he does not appear on the date, we will not be able to accommodate him."

Young was meant to testify in July, but failed to attend.

His attorneys sent two letters to the commission explaining why he could not be present. The main reason was that he had recently had an eye operation and was battling to read.

According to his attorneys at the time, the commission's schedule was also a problem. Three days had been set aside for his evidence. However, Young said he would need a week or two, without cross-examination, to give his evidence-in-chief.

Young has reportedly raised concerns that the commission was not allowing allegations of fraud and corruption to be put to State witnesses, as these were meant to be dealt with only in phase two of the hearing.

He has accused the commission of being one-sided, in that it made no attempt to rigorously examine the evidence of government witnesses.

The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma in 2011 to hold public hearings into the controversial arms deal.

Last year, Zuma extended the commission's term until 30 April 2015, after which it is expected to issue a report within six months.

Read more on:    willie seriti  |  arms deal

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