JZ fights for stay of prosecution

Eric Naki

ANC president Jacob Zuma has a "lifeline" pre-trial opportunity to apply for a permanent stay of prosecution in his corruption, fraud and money laundering case.

Zuma, with arms firm Thint, will go to the Pietermaritzburg high court on August 4 - not for a trial but to submit an application to ask for the reviewal of the decision to prosecute him.

This is part of the agreement reached between KwaZulu-Natal Judge-President Vuka Tshabalala, NPA and legal representatives of Zuma and his co-accused, Thint.

NPA spokesman Tlali Tlali said the "parties established common ground" during their meeting in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The discussion was called by the NPA for clarity after Judge Tshabalala expressed concern about his not being informed about the Zuma-Thint trial set for August 4.

But the NPA said it had copied papers to Tshabalala when it filed an indictment to the Pietermaritzburg high court last December.

The charges emanated from the controversial multi-million rand arms deal.

Asked about the implications of this, Tlali said it would temporarily bring criminal proceedings to a halt pending the outcome of the application.

"The court will hear the merits of the application," Tlali. said. "If the application does not succeed Zuma and Thint's lawyers will bring another application for permanent stay of prosecution.

"These are legally available avenues and remedies."

The trial date for the criminal case will be determined by the outcome of "these legal obstacles that we have to remove before we proceed to the trial itself".