South African prosecutor to challenge order on Zuma corruption charges | News | DW | 23.05.2016
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South African prosecutor to challenge order on Zuma corruption charges

South Africa's prosecutor plans to appeal a court decision saying President Zuma should face hundreds of graft charges. A court recently recommended that Zuma face the charges after they were dropped in 2009.

State prosecutors said on Monday that they will appeal a court ruling which called for South African President Jacob Zuma to face almost 800 charges of corruption.

"I have decided to apply for leave to appeal against the judgment," said the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.

He said that the court ruling could dilute the prosecutor office's powers and called the ruling "an important matter of principle which affects all prosecutions."

The charges were related to alleged corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering.

The prosecutor also announced on Monday that South Africa's finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, was not being investigated for espionage

Abrahams denied media reports that the country's financial minister was set to be arrested for establishing a surveillance unit in the revenue service.

'Irrational' charge dismissal

In April, the Pretoria High Court recommended that Zuma face the full 783 charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering that were dropped prior to assuming office in 2009.

Dismissing the charges, which included a multi-billion dollar arms deal, cleared the way for Zuma to be elected president a few weeks later.

At the time, the prosecutor justified the decision by saying tapped phone calls showed political interference in the case.

But the court dismissed the prosecutor's decision as "irrational" and said the case should be reviewed.

Last month, a Zuma-formed commission cleared all government officials - including himself - of corruption over a 1999 arms deal.

Calls to step down

Following Monday's announcement, South Africa's opposition accused the state prosecutor of trying to shield Zuma from prosecution and buy him more time.

Zuma has faced months of criticism and growing calls for him to resign amidst a series of corruption scandals along with diminishing economic growth and record unemployment.

"Any charges would add pressure for him to step aside," Shadrack Gutto, professor for African Renaissance Studies at the University of South Africa (Unisa), told news agency AFP.

The president lost another legal battle in March when South Africa's highest court ruled that he violated the constitution by using public funds to renovate his private residence.

The so-called "security" work, which cost taxpayers $24 million (21.3 million euros), included a swimming pool, chicken run, cattle enclosure and an amphitheatre.

rs/kms (AFP, Reuters)

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