The repeatedly delayed trial of former South African President Jacob Zuma has been postponed until May 17.
The corruption trial of former South African President Jacob Zuma has been postponed again pending the outcome of the former leader’s call to remove the state prosecutor from the case.
Zuma did not appear at the Pietermaritzburg High Court due to a “medical emergency,” his lawyer Dali Mpofu told the court on Monday.
His spokesman later said Zuma had been admitted to hospital for medical tests.
His legal representatives have asked to delay the start of the trial until the Supreme Court of appeals decides on Zuma’s efforts to remove state attorney Billy Downer from the case.
Zuma accused Downer of bias against the former leader and pleaded not guilty to corruption, money laundering and extortion charges in a $2 billion arms deal in the 1990s. The case will resume on May 17.
The delay is the latest – nearly 17 years have passed since Zuma was first charged in a controversial arms deal in 1999.
He is charged along with French arms maker Thales, who is accused of paying bribes to Zuma through his former financial adviser, Shabir Shaik, who was convicted on related charges in 2005.
South Africa’s national prosecutors have opposed the extension application, accusing Zuma of delaying tactics to prevent the trial from starting.
While Zuma has publicly stated that he wants a good day in court, he has launched numerous legal battles over the years that have delayed the start of the trial.
High Court Justice Piet Koen, delivering his judgment on Monday, said that while trial delays may cause frustration, the current delays are unavoidable as the court must wait for the Supreme Court to rule.
Zuma, 79, is currently on medical parole and sentenced to 15 months in prison after being found guilty of contempt of court last year for flouting a Constitutional Court order to appear before a judicial committee investigating corruption during the 2009-2018 presidential term.
Zuma’s imprisonment last July sparked days of unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, with shops, warehouses and factories looted and many burned. More than 300 people were killed in the riots.
About three months later, Zuma was released on medical parole because of undisclosed health conditions. A subsequent court decision invalidated medical parole, but his lawyers are appealing the decision.