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When One Trial Ends Another Opens for South Africa’s Former President

Former South African president Jacob Zuma did not attend a hearing in his corruption trial Tuesday, prompting prosecutors to question his absence and ask the judge to examine his medical records. He was due to appear at the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the resumption of his corruption trial, where he had asked to have the prosecution team removed from the case because he asserts that it is biased against him. The hearing on Zuma’s plea was scheduled to last two days. Before that plea was argued, prosecutors demanded an explanation for Zuma’s failure to appear at the courthouse in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal. Zuma’s chief defense lawyer said the former president wasn’t using medical grounds as a reason for his absence and was happy for the hearing to go ahead without him. His medical condition and whereabouts have become a closely guarded secret after South Africa’s main opposition party and other organizations questioned whether his parole followed procedure and if he was ill enough to be released. Zuma’s trial opened in May. He faces charges of corruption, racketeering, money laundering, tax evasion and fraud relating to a multi-billion dollar arms deal the South African government signed with French company Thales in 1999.