Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2007-09-14 Reporter: Sapa

Court Says Zuma May Not Intervene in State's Probe



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African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Jacob Zuma may not intervene in the state's plan to extend an investigation into him to the United Kingdom, the Pretoria High Court ruled on Friday. Judge Willie van der Merwe ruled against an application brought by Zuma to intervene in the state's request to obtain information from banks and lawyers in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year Leonard McCarthy, the deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), brought an ex-parte application for permission to approach banks and solicitors in the UK with a view to the possible reinstating of fraud and corruption charges against Zuma.

Zuma only became aware of the application after Judge Ben du Plessis ratified a letter of request for international assistance from McCarthy. His legal team approached the Pretoria High Court arguing that he should have been notified about the application. "It's about seeking to prosecute Mr Zuma -- how can a potential accused not have an interest," his advocate Kemp J Kemp said at the time.

Lawyers for the state argued that the application was only brought as part of a process of information gathering. "This is a true investigation; it might lead somewhere, it might lead nowhere," advocate Billy Downer said.

The state argued that should the information gathered become evidence at a later possible trial, Zuma would then be able to challenge it. The NDPP wants the assistance of the manager of Barclays Bank in London, where the account of solicitors Berwin Leighton Paisner is held.

It also wants to approach the solicitors about details of a payment made in August 2001 from their bank account to an entity in South Africa named Cay Nominees. Zuma was not in court on Friday and it was not immediately clear if he was planning to appeal the court's decision.

The state indicated that they would now go ahead with the plan to seek assistance from the UK authorities. - Sapa

With acknowledgements to Sapa and Mail and Guardian.