JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African former President Jacob Zuma will stand trial on corruption charges relating to a $2.5 billion arms deal after court denied him a permanent stay of prosecution on Friday.
The ruling by Judge Jerome Mnguni in the Pietermaritzburg High Court paves way for Zuma’s trial to start on Oct. 15.
Zuma, who was in office from 2009-2018, had applied for a permanent stay of prosecution from 16 charges of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to a deal to buy 30 billion rand of European military hardware for South Africa’s armed forces in the late 1990s.
The 77-year-old has denied any wrongdoing and has said he is the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt.
The charges against Zuma were originally filed a decade ago but then set aside by the National Prosecuting Authority shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009.
After his election, his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have the charges reinstated, finally succeeding in 2016. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alison Williams)