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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 12:40 GMT
Shaik's millions 'seized' in SA
Schabir Shaik
Shaik's trial led to Jacob Zuma's dismissal
A South African court has ordered a businessman close to the ex-Deputy President Jacob Zuma to pay $5.5m of his assets to the state.

Schabir Shaik was convicted in July last year of having a generally corrupt relationship with Mr Zuma.

Mr Shaik was found guilty of receiving money from the French arms company to facilitate a deal worth more than $4bn.

Prosecutors argued the state should be allowed those assets that derived from his business relationship with Mr Zuma.

Evidence aired in the Shaik trial prompted President Thabo Mbeki to dismiss Mr Zuma from his duties as deputy president.

Mr Zuma was subsequently charged with corruption.

'Landmark judgement'

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) welcomed the ruling, which Mr Shaik's legal team say they will appeal.

File photograph of Jacob Zuma
Zuma was seen as the favourite to succeed President Mbeki

"The landmark judgement will assist in future similar asset-forfeiture cases as it has set a useful precedent," NPA spokesman Makhosini Nkosi said.

Mr Shaik was convicted of corruption and fraud and sentenced last July to an effective 15 years' imprisonment.

His appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal later this year.

Before his sacking, Mr Zuma was seen as the natural successor to President Mbeki. While Mr Zuma's many supporters within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its allies stood by him as he was charged with corruption, his support has ebbed since he was charged with rape in December.

Mr Zuma denies both charges.

The corruption case has caused the ANC its biggest internal crisis since it was elected to power in 1994.

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