Former president Jacob Zuma registered yet another court loss, on Tuesday, when Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen threw out his recusal application against State prosecutor advocate Billy Downer.
Jacob Zuma recusal application dismissed by court
After weeks of contemplation, the judge returned with unfortunate news for the former president. Zuma had submitted a plea to have the veteran lawyer responsible for the conviction of his close ally Schabir Shaik recused on the basis that he did not hold the title to lead the corruption trial.
The former president also asserted in his submission that Downer’s participation would jeopardise his right to a fair trial.
Moreover, Zuma’s legal defence argued that the same Downer was a witness in a review application filed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the early 2000s and therefore, his involvement in motivations made by the political party to reopen his corruption case could not mean that he would be impartial in leading the trial.
However, these submissions were wholly dismissed by Judge Koen, who argued in his judgment that, not only did Downer hold the unqualified title to prosecute in this matter, but that his alleged bias was a subjective issue that was not supported by any solid evidence.
Zuma’s special plea to be acquitted of all charges in the event that Downer’s recused was also dismissed. The court concluded that the corruption trial must resume on 11 April 2022.
At the time this article was published, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had not issued a formal statement, However, the public prosecuting entity welcomed the judgement in a tweet.
Zuma stands accused, along with French company Thales, of accepting an annual bribe of R500 000 from the arms dealer for protection from investigation and prosecution.
The alleged bribe, it’s believed, was facilitated by Shaik who was convicted in June 2005.