French arms company on trial with Zuma says it has no chance of fair trial in SA

2018-07-27 13:45
Former president Jacob Zuma outside court. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

Former president Jacob Zuma outside court. (Kaveel Singh, News24)

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French arms company Thint (Thales), which has been charged along with former president Jacob Zuma in his corruption case, said on Friday that it did not believe it had a chance of a fair trial in South Africa.

This was as lawyers for both the company and Zuma told the Kwazulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg that they were preparing applications for a permanent stay of prosecution.

The National Prosecuting Authority confirmed earlier this week that it had turned down representations by the arms company to withdraw charges against it.

"We believe there are reasonable prospects of [a] successful prosecution," NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 at the time.

'Cannot obtain a fair trial'

Zuma, who made a brief appearance on Friday, faces charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, while Thint faces charges of corruption and fraud.

In a statement, the company said it noted the decision by the national director of public prosecutions.

"Thales intends to consider all legal options available to it under South African law in order to present its defence to the charges in this procedure commenced as far back as 2006," it said.

"Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure – through no fault of Thales at all – together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial, as it is entitled to under the South African Constitution and international law."

In 1997, Thales won a R2.6bn stake in South Africa's R60bn arms acquisition programme to supply combat systems for four frigates procured by the navy.

The case involves 783 questionable payments to Zuma, allegedly received from the company in connection with the arms deal.

The company reiterated that it had no knowledge of any transgressions being committed by any of its staff in relation to the arms deal.

"Thales respects the law, has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and has cooperated fully with the local authorities at all times, and will continue to do so."

The court case was provisionally postponed until November 30.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pietermaritzburg

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