WATCH: Jacob Zuma loses bid to force Billy Downer out as corruption trial prosecutor
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Pietermaritzburg – In another setback for former President Jacob Zuma, the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Tuesday summarily dismissed Zuma's application to have NPA senior prosecutor, Advocate Billy Downer SC, removed as the lead prosecutor of the arms deal corruption trial.
Zuma has accused Downer of previously leaking information about his corruption trial to third and unauthorised parties, including CIA spies and some local media houses. He also accused Downer of leaking his confidential medical report to a journalist.
Handing down a summary of his 107-page long judgment, Judge Piet Koen, dismissed all the arguments advanced by Zuma and his legal team when they orally argued why Downer should be removed.
Dealing with the first issue of whether Downer has the right to prosecute or not, Koen said Zuma's argument was far-fetched as the senior prosecutor was constitutionally mandated to lead his prosecution.
He also dismissed the argument that Downer lacks the independence and impartiality to lead his prosecution, as doing so would taint the case and impugn all the rules of a fair trial. Koen said if such an excuse would be advanced against prosecutors, a few, if any, would lead prosecutions.
Going on, Koen said the matter was wrongly pursued, and most of the points Zuma and his team advanced were dismissed during the spy tapes hearing and late in 2019 when the former president applied for a permanent stay of prosecution which would have meant that the corruption trial would have been permanently quashed.
PHOTO: Former President #JacobZuma greets NPA's Advocate Billy Downer SC shortly after the Pietermaritzburg High Court summarily dismissed his application to have him removed as the prosecutor of his corruption trial. Judge Piet Koen ruled that the corruption must go ahead. @IOL pic.twitter.com/R9wbrIBUh7— Sihle Mavuso (@ZANewsFlash) October 26, 2021
He later said the corruption trial has dragged and stalled for a long time and in the interest of justice, it should go ahead as soon as possible. He then briefly adjourned the court to allow legal teams to meet and map a way forward.