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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Zuma lawyers seek rape trial end
Former SA deputy president Jacob Zuma
Mr Zuma had been seen as a possible future president
Lawyers for former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma, 63, have sought to get rape charges brought against him thrown out of court.

His lawyers argue that the state failed to make a convincing case and say the evidence is too weak for a conviction.

The complainant, a 31-year-old friend of the Zuma family, says she was raped while visiting Mr Zuma at his Johannesburg home in November.

Mr Zuma is also facing charges of corruption. He denies both charges.

The defence will continue to present its case for early dismissal on Tuesday.

Mr Zuma admits to having sex with the woman, but says it was consensual.

If his lawyers are successful in their attempt to have the rape charge thrown out, Mr Zuma will be saved from a potentially embarrassing cross-examination.

Proceedings in the Johannesburg High Court were adjourned nearly two weeks ago. When the trial resumed briefly last Thursday, the prosecution said it would call no more witnesses.

Interview

On Friday, Mr Zuma gave an interview to The Sowetan daily newspaper in which he said he was being crucified by the media.

"They have tried me and found me guilty and they say I am a rapist," he told the newspaper.

Mr Zuma said his sex life was not wanting and denied raping the woman.

"I am not a rapist," he said. "I don't struggle to have liaisons with women."

Criticisms

Women's groups have been critical of the trial and the cross-examination of the woman at the heart of it, who is HIV positive and an Aids activist.

The alleged rape victim enters court
The identity of the alleged rape victim is being protected

The woman is being guarded by a witness protection programme and has been in hiding for the three months since charges were laid.

Supporters of Mr Zuma have at times stood outside the court and jeered as she has arrived at the courthouse.

"This case has sent out the message that if you report rape you will have to be a virginal 19-year-old who has never had sex, otherwise everything you have done in your life will be held up to prove that you consented and are somehow to blame," Liesl Gerntholz, a legal adviser, told AP news agency.

Ms Gerntholz said since the start of the trial she had counselled at least one victim who said she would not report her rape.

Ms Gerntholz is part of a campaign group launched to coincide with the trial.

It is called the One in Nine campaign, to reflect the estimate that only one in nine rape victims reports the assault.

Successor

Mr Zuma - a veteran of the ANC struggle to end apartheid and a favourite of the party's left wing - was once thought a likely successor to Thabo Mbeki as South African president.

But the allegations of rape and corruption are thought by many to have ended that prospect.

A separate corruption trial is scheduled to begin in the Durban High Court in July.


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