Publication: The Herald Issued: Date: 2003-09-15 Reporter: Herald Correspondent

French Magistrate to Assist in Zuma Probe



The Herald

Date 2003-09-15


Herald Correspondent

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Paris magistrate Edith Boizette is ready and willing to work with the Scorpions in their investigation of the arms deal, if the French government gives the go-ahead.

Mrs Boizette, who heads the financial arm of the Paris magistrature, has agreed to a request by the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions for assistance in the investigation of French arms manufacturer Thales. Thales is accused of granting bribes via a South African company to Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

She said yesterday she was willing to take up the case and to work with the Scorpions team when they travelled to Paris next month.

In Parliament yesterday, Justice Minister Penuell Maduna was delighted at the news that the French prosecuting authorities have finally decided to assist in the investigation.

Reliable sources said yesterday that the team to travel to France would be led by advocate Billy Downer.

Mr Downer originally led the Zuma investigation and would also prosecute Mr Zuma's financial adviser and friend, Schabir Shaik, on charges of fraud, tax evasion and corruption.

Mr Shaik is expected back in court on September 25.

An NDPP request to the French authorities, among others, is that Alain Thetard and Jean Paul Perrier of Thales testify in a South African court as State witnesses against the deputy president.

It is understood that the NDPP had decided not to charge Mr Zuma on the prima facie evidence it had because the Thales executives would not testify.

In terms of French law, an examining magistrate like Mrs Boizette has wide powers.

However, the decision on how far the SA-France co-operation will go lies not with her, but with the French government.

With acknowledgement to The Herald.