Corruption charges against former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma have been dismissed - boosting his chances of running for president.
Mr Zuma never gave up on his presidential ambitions
The judge threw out the case after the prosecution said it was not ready to proceed, setting off celebrations by Mr Zuma's supporters in the courtroom.
Mr Zuma was sacked last year in connection with a 1999 arms deal. He was cleared of rape earlier this year.
The state's case had "limped from one disaster to another", said the judge.
Judge Herbert Msimang said he could not allow the prosecution to delay the case as it had requested and threw it out.
"I said I was innocent, I am still saying I'm innocent and I will repeat it tomorrow," Mr Zuma told a jubilant crowd.
The prosecution team blames the defence for delaying tactics and maintains it has a strong and winnable case and has not ruled out going back to court.
Mr Zuma was sacked from the government more than a year ago when his financial adviser Schabir Shaik was found guilty of corruption in a case that arose from a government arms procurement deal in the 1990s.
Zuma's supporters have appeared during his court appearances
The judge said there had been a ¿mutually beneficial symbiosis¿ between Mr Shaik and Mr Zuma, and evidence given in Mr Shaik's trial prompted the National Prosecuting Authority to start investigating charges against Mr Zuma.
Although the investigation prompted President Mbeki to relieve Mr Zuma of his duties as deputy president, he kept his position as deputy leader of the ANC.
He first appeared in connection with the corruption allegations in the Durban magistrate's court in October last year, and prosecutors spent the intervening period collecting and examining evidence.
Late last year, Mr Zuma was accused of rape by the daughter of a family friend, giving rise to a separate trial, in which he was acquitted.
Mr Zuma always maintained that the cases were aimed at sidelining him politically.
Unless another case is brought against him, Mr Zuma will be free to contest next year for the leadership of the governing African National Congress Party, ANC.
Should he take that position he would be a firm favourite to succeed Thabo Mbeki as the next South African president in 2009.
The former head of the African National Congress's military wing has considerable support from the influential trade unions and the Communist Party.
He is seen as less aloof than Mr Mbeki and likely to drop some of the ANC's more conservative economic policies.