A South African court on Friday reserved judgment of former President Jacob Zuma’s demand for a permanent stay of prosecution.
The High Court in the eastern town of Pietermaritzburg is expected to take about three months to make a decision on whether Zuma should stand trial for a host of corruption charges.
Earlier, Zuma’s legal team told the court that the charges against the 77-year-old needed to be dropped, due to political interference and an unreasonable delay in prosecution.
But the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) argued that there was a clear public interest in ensuring the prosecution of Zuma’s crimes, saying there was no evidence of any political motivation for the charges.
The court is hearing arguments in a long-running legal saga that dates back to 1999 over alleged kickbacks in a multi-billion-dollar arms deal with a French company, Thales, which Zuma oversaw as vice president.
Zuma is facing charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering for a series of alleged bribes paid to him through his former financial adviser, Shabir Shaik, during the arms deal.
Shaik was found guilty of corruption, fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.
In 2007, Zuma was charged with 16 counts of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.
The charges, relating to 783 payments in connection with Thales – were dropped before he assumed the presidency in 2009.
After years of legal challenges, the NPA in early 2018 served a fresh indictment, deciding Zuma must face trial.
Zuma had been forced to resign as president under intense pressure from his African National Congress (ANC) party shortly beforehand.