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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
SA's Zuma to stand trial in 2006
Zuma outside court
Zuma is still hoping to be South Africa's next leader
Former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma is to go on trial in the Durban High Court on 31 July next year.

The date for the High Court trial was set following discussions between Mr Zuma's lawyers and the prosecution.

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered in Durban as Mr Zuma appeared in a magistrate's court, charged with corruption.

Mr Zuma maintains his innocence. His case has split the ruling ANC party and many South Africans still hope he will be the country's next president.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) welcomed the decision to proceed with the trial in July.

"As the NPA we are very pleased with this as it offers us what we wanted all the time - which is enough time to prepare for this case," spokesman Makhosini Nkosi said.

It is in Mr Zuma's interest to conclude the case by 2007, when the ANC elects a new party leader, who is then almost certain to be the party's presidential candidate in the 2009 elections.

Mr Zuma's legal representative, Michael Hulley, said he was "perfectly happy" with the July 2006 trial date, "given the time constraints and nature of the [court] roll".

Demonstration

During Mr Zuma's appearance in the magistrate's court on Tuesday, the state and his lawyers reached an agreement that the prosecution must present an indictment by 12 November this year.

Outside the court, about 1,000 people carried placards and sang songs in support of Mr Zuma, insisting that the former deputy president is innocent.

Many in the crowd had kept an all-night vigil outside the court, before Mr Zuma arrived just before 0900 local time (0700 GMT) in a motorcade.

Mr Zuma was sacked in June, after the corruption trial of his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, appeared to leave unanswered questions about the then deputy president's own conduct.


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