'I demand an acquittal': Zuma says State cannot present corruption evidence against him

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Former president Jacob Zuma.
Former president Jacob Zuma.
Thulie Dlamini, Gallo Images

Former president Jacob Zuma has demanded that he be acquitted of arms deal corruption - without ever facing trial - because the State has "lost the constitutional legitimacy to present the evidence against me".

Zuma was responding to arguments by lead prosecutor Billy Downer, who says the former president's efforts to seek acquittal through a so-called "special plea" process are legally ludicrous.

This, Downer said, is because special pleas are used to attack the "title" of an advocate to prosecute a case and, in any event, can only result in the removal of the prosecutor.

READ | I got innocent donations and no one expected anything from me: Inside Zuma's 'not guilty' plea

There is no legal precedent for them resulting in the acquittal of an accused person.

In papers filed at the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma is however adamant that the State's alleged "loss of constitutional legitimacy" has fundamentally violated his fair trial rights - an apparent repetition of his failed arguments to secure a permanent stay of his prosecution.

"I must therefore be acquitted because there is no evidence that the State may lawfully present in a court for me to answer as a consequence of the State losing title to prosecute," Zuma says.

According to Zuma, Downer's lack of title is not connected to his lawful delegation to prosecute the case against him, but rather his alleged lack of independence and impartiality.

He insists that Downer is "hell bent" on pursuing him for racketeering and corruption linked to South Africa's multibillion rand arms deal.

Zuma stands accused of receiving over R4 million in bribes and benefits from his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik, who was convicted of arranging a R500 000 a year bribe for the then-deputy president from French arms company Thales, in exchange for his "protection" from any potential investigation into the arms deal.

He has previously repeatedly claimed that his prosecution was fatally tainted by political interference and undue delay, but these allegations have been rejected by the courts.

This is a developing story.

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