March 26, 2018 / 3:26 PM / 4 months ago

South Africa's Zuma to appear in court on April 6 on graft charges

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was due to appear in court on April 6 to face charges of corruption in a years-old $2.5 billion arms deal, although he will legally challenge the decision to prosecute him, his lawyer said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: South Africa's President Jacob Zuma announces his resignation at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

The National Prosecuting Authority earlier this month said it would seek to prosecute Zuma on 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering.

The case is a dramatic development on a continent where leaders rarely face their accusers in court.

“It was served at my Durban offices. The court date is April 6,” Michael Hulley told Reuters by telephone, referring to the summons. He declined to comment on how his client would respond.

Zuma is mounting a legal challenge against the NPA’s decision to prosecute him, Hulley said.

Zuma has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

Zuma, who was forced to resign by his ruling African National Congress last month, was at the centre of a 1990s deal to buy European military kit that has cast a shadow over politics in South Africa for years.

Zuma was deputy president at the time of the arms deal. Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser, was found guilty and jailed in 2005 for trying to solicit bribes for Zuma from a French arms company.

The previous charges were filed against Zuma but then dropped by the NPA shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009.

Since his election nine years ago, his opponents have fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by James Macharia

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