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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Jail term for corrupt Zuma aide
Schabir Shaik
Shaik always protested his innocence
A financial adviser to South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has been sentenced to 15 years in jail at his corruption trial in Durban.

Schabir Shaik was found guilty last week on two counts of corruption and one of fraud but remains free on bail.

Analysts say the verdict raises the possibility of criminal charges against Mr Zuma, who was seen as a favourite to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

Meanwhile, 21 politicians have appeared in court on charges of fraud.

The current and former MPs, mostly from the governing African National Congress (ANC) are accused of misusing official travel vouchers in an alleged fraud, using $3m (1.6m) of taxpayers' money.

Struggle subverted

The Shaik sentencing was broadcast live on national television.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg says Shaik appeared shocked as the judge delivered the sentence.

South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma has said his conscience is clear
He is set to appeal.

Judge Hilary Squires jailed Shaik for 15 years on two counts and three years on a third count, the sentences to run concurrently, AFP reports.

Judge Squires compared corruption to a cancer subverting democracy and human rights and rejected the defence lawyer's plea for clemency because Shaik had fought apartheid.

"His corporate empire's progress and prosperity was plainly linked to the possibility that Jacob Zuma would finally ascend to the highest political office," he said.

"Far from carrying out the object of [South Africa's liberation] struggle, this whole saga represents a subversion of it."

"It was a typical example of a privileged treatment to a selected political figure in a situation redolent with lack of transparency and subversive of administrative fairness and integrity. And that is what the law seeks to punish."

Dancing MPs

As the sentence was being handed down, Mr Zuma was making his first public appearance since last Thursday's guilty verdict, in parliament.

ANC MPs danced and sang his name, while opposition lawmakers called for him to resign.

They were, however, not given the opportunity to question him directly about the corruption verdict.

Our correspondent says Mr Zuma looked relaxed and composed.

After the verdict, Mr Zuma said his conscience was clear.

The case has its roots in an investigation into corrupt practices surrounding a R6bn ($1bn) arms procurement deal by the South African government.

During the course of that investigation, in 2003, Mr Zuma denied that he had attempted to secure a bribe from the French arms company Thales, which has since become Thomson CSF.

Our correspondent says although Mr Zuma was not on trial, the verdict could be devastating for his political ambitions.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Mr Zuma's reaction was 'relaxed' at the sentence



SEE ALSO:
Zuma: Bad days for Mr Nice Guy
07 Jun 05 |  Africa
Guilty verdict in SA graft case
02 Jun 05 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
17 May 05 |  Country profiles


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