JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -A South African judge on Wednesday dismissed a bid by former president Jacob Zuma to appeal an earlier ruling rejecting his attempt to have the prosecutor in his arms deal corruption trial taken off the case for alleged bias.
The judgment means Zuma’s trial will move forward on April 11.
“The application for leave to appeal and all related applications … are all dismissed,” Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen said in court. “The criminal trial shall proceed,” he added.
Zuma, ousted as head of state in 2018 after nine years in power, has pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering in a long-running case over a $2 billion arms deal in the 1990s.
Zuma has claimed he is the victim of a political witch-hunt orchestrated by allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa, a charge Ramaphosa has denied.
“It is not within the power of the president – and it shouldn’t be within the power of the president – to initiate criminal proceedings against anyone,” Ramaphosa told parliament on Wednesday, addressing the Zuma camp’s accusation.
Last year Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison for defying an order to participate in a corruption inquiry. He was released on medical parole, but a court later ruled he should return to jail. Zuma has appealed that ruling.
(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Johannesburg;Editing by Christina Fincher)