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S. Africa drops Zuma graft charges

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- The corruption case against former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has been thrown out of court, his lawyer has told CNN.

Judge Herbert Msimang said Wednesday the state's case against Zuma "went from one disaster to another" and failed to follow proper guidelines, Reuters reported.

"There were clear guidelines which should have informed their decision to proceed. They ignored those guidelines at their own peril," Msimang said.

Msimang also dismissed the state's request for a postponement of the case, according to the South African Press Association, saying Zuma must be treated the same as any other citizen.

"His standing in the community will not alter his position in the eyes of the law," he said, the SAPA reported.

Regional political analyst, Aubrey Matshiqi, said that pending a decision by the state, "Zuma is in a much stronger position today than he was yesterday."

Matshiqui said the public domain views Zuma as "getting off" and if the state decides to re-file charges then the public, who show strong support for Zuma, will not receive it well.

"It would be a public relations disaster," Matshiqui said.

Hundreds of Zuma supporters celebrated the ruling outside the courthouse in Pietermaritzburg.

In May, a judge found Zuma not guilty of rape charges. He was accused of raping a 31-year-old AIDS activist who is also a family friend. The incident allegedly took place on November 2, 2005, at one of his homes.

The judge upheld the defendant's claim that it was consensual sex.

Zuma, 64, was dismissed as deputy president last year after he was charged in the corruption case -- charges he always denied.

Prosecutors later filed charges against Zuma himself, accusing him of receiving bribes from a French arms company in connection with a controversial arms deal.

The judge equally threw out charges against the French company, Thint, which was also in the dock in Pietermaritzburg.

Zuma's supporters maintained that the corruption charges were part of a smear campaign aimed at destroying his political career. He was once considered a candidate to succeed South African President Thabo Mbeki after his second and final term ends in 2009.


Zuma has denied any wrongdoing.



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