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South Africa's court rejects Zuma's appeal to remove chief prosecutor

Former South African President Jacob Zuma sits in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on January 31, 2022.   -  
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Jacob Zuma

A South African court has dismissed former President Jacob Zuma's attempt to remove the prosecutor from his upcoming corruption trial.

Zuma’s lawyers sought to appeal an earlier ruling that rejected his effort to have the prosecutor taken off his corruption case.

The application was dismissed Wednesday by Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Piet Koen, on the grounds that Zuma’s attempt to remove the prosecutor “lacks reasonable prospects of success.”

Zuma, South Africa's president from 2009 to 2018 before he was ousted by his African National Congress party amid wide-ranging allegations of corruption, had argued that lead prosecutor Billy Downer is biased against him.

His lawyers accused Downer of leaking confidential information about his case to the media and being a witness in a separate case against him by the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

The efforts to have Downer removed have delayed the start of Zuma’s corruption trial, which is now scheduled to begin on April 11.

Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from French arms manufacturer Thales through his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who was convicted and sentenced on related charges in 2005. Downer led the prosecution that resulted in Shaik’s conviction.

Zuma's lawyers still have the option to petition the country’s Supreme Court of Appeal, which could further delay the corruption trial.