A court in South Africa delivered the latest legal blow to President Jacob Zuma as it ruled against any possibility of an appeal of a ruling that left him open to prosecution.
The ruling will ensure that he is prosecuted for corruption charges over a 1999 arms deal worth billions of dollars. Zuma has denied ever taking bribes in the arms deal.
The court said there were “no merits” in the argument requesting an appeal. The court had ruled in April that a 2009 decision to drop all 783 charges against Mr. Zuma was irrational. The National Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shaun Abrahams had asked the court for permission to appeal against the earlier ruling, saying prosecutors should be able to exercise discretion over whether an investigation should continue.
High Court Judge Aubrey Ledwaba rejected the request stating;
“We seriously considered whether the appeal would have reasonable prospects of success and came to the conclusion that there are no merits in the arguments.”
The ruling is the latest legal blow to Zuma, as his chances for avoiding standing trial have gotten even slimmer. He however, still has the option of taking the case to the Supreme Court of Appeal. Failing that, he then has the final option of asking the Constitutional Court to throw out the case.
The arms deal which involved companies from Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK, France and South Africa and the subsequent allegation of bribery has dogged both the governments of President Jacob Zuma and predecessor Thabo Mbeki.
The opposition, Democratic Alliance (DA) has waged a seven-year battle to get Mr. Zuma to stand trial over the charges and it looks like their efforts are finally about to pay off.
Convictions have already been had over the arms deal including; Mr. Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik convicted in 2005 for corruption and Tony Yengeni, chairman of parliament’s defense committee at time of deal and ANC chief whip, convicted of fraud in 2003. The two have already been released on parole after serving little fractions of their sentence.