Former president Jacob Zuma sitting alongside co-accused Thales – represented by Christine Guerrier - in the Durban High Court at a previous appearance on charges related to fraud and corruption stemming from the arms deal. PHOTO: Felix Dlangamandla/Pool

Johannesburg - French arms company Thales, former president Jacob Zuma's co-accused in a corruption and related charges court case, does not believe it can obtain the fair trial it is entitled to, the company said on Sunday.

Zuma is accused of taking bribes from Thales in connection with the multi-billion rand arms deal during his time as KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC and then deputy ANC president. He faces one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering, and 12 counts of fraud. Thales faces one charge of money laundering, one of racketeering, and two of corruption.

In a statement on Sunday, Thales - accused number two after Zuma - said that on November 30 last year, its application for a permanent stay of prosecution was postponed to May 20 this year for hearing in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

The application was to review and set aside the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) decision to “re-institute” the prosecution against the company, and for a permanent stay due to the long delay by the prosecution in the proceedings. The hearing for application of permanent stay would be held between May 20 and 23.

"Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure – through no fault of Thales at all – together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial as it is entitled to under the South African Constitution and international law.

"Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the combat systems for South Africa's corvettes (the Arms Deal in 1999).

"Thales respects the law, has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption, and has cooperated fully with the local authorities at all times, and will continue to do so," the statement said.

Zuma has also applied for a permanent stay of prosecution on similar grounds.

African News Agency (ANA)