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Last Updated: Friday, 3 June, 2005, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
SA's Zuma has 'clear conscience'
South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma is under fire from the South African press
South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has said his conscience is clear despite the conviction of his financial adviser for fraud and corruption.

Schabir Shaik's trial focused on his business relationship with Mr Zuma, who is seen as a favourite to succeed President Thabo Mbeki.

Analysts say Thursday's guilty verdict raises the possibility of criminal charges against Mr Zuma.

Editorials in the South African press on Friday called for him to step down.

Ambitions threatened

"My conscience is clear because I have not committed any crime, nor was I charged with any criminal offence," Mr Zuma told a business meeting in Zambia on Friday.

The evidence... clearly shows a readiness in both Shaik to turn to Zuma for help and Zuma's readiness to give it
Judge Squires

"I was... not in court to answer any of the allegations made," he added.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Johannesburg says although Mr Zuma was not on trial, the verdict could be devastating for his political ambitions.

Mr Zuma said he had not had time to study the judgement, which was delivered over three days, and would unable to make any detailed comment at this stage.

He has angrily condemned his "trial by media" and said he had been denied the chance to clear his name in court.

"All of [Shaik's] companies had been used at one time or another to pay Jacob Zuma in contravention of... the Corruption Act," Judge Hillary Squires said.

"The evidence... clearly shows a readiness in both Shaik to turn to Zuma for help and Zuma's readiness to give it," he added.

Makhosini Nkosi, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority, declined to say whether the deputy president would be prosecuted.

The Shaik trial stems from an investigation headed by the then chief prosecutor, Bulelani Ngcuka.

He said in 2003 that while there was prima facie evidence against Mr Zuma, he would not press charges against him since he was not sure that there was "a winnable case".

The South African government has issued a statement in reaction to the verdict, acknowledging that "there may be a number of implications, for government, arising out of the judgement [but] this is a matter that will require considered reflection by relevant legal and political authorities".

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