(AFP) – Oct 2, 2007
A South African businessman lost his final legal bid Tuesday to overturn a graft conviction for securing bribes for the deputy president of the country's ruling ANC, Jacob Zuma.
South Africa's highest court dismissed an application for leave to appeal by Schabir Shaik, former financial adviser to Zuma -- a contender for the presidency of the African National Congress and of the country.
Shaik was convicted in 2005 on two counts of corruption and one of fraud for payments to secure Zuma's political influence for the benefit of his companies when Zuma was South Africa's deputy president, and earlier when he was a provincial economic affairs minister.
Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
On Tuesday, the Constitutional Court dismissed Shaik's contention that his trial had been unfair.
"It would not be in the interests of justice to grant leave to appeal," said a unanimous judgment.
But the court did grant him leave to challenge the confiscation of certain assets deemed to have been proceeds of the crime.
Zuma, who was fired as deputy president following Shaik's conviction, has been charged with related crimes, but the case was thrown out of court for procedural reasons.
The National Prosecuting Authority declined to comment on the possibility of reinstating the charges against Zuma now that Shaik has exhausted all legal avenues.
Zuma is widely regarded as a frontrunner in the race to become the next leader of the ANC, and in 2009 of the country.
But his prospects could be permanently scuppered if he becomes mired in a court battle ahead of ANC leadership elections in December.
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