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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 16:37 GMT
Thales firms in Zuma indictment
Former deputy president Jacob Zuma
Mr Zuma is protesting his innocence
Prosecutors in South Africa have charged two subsidiaries of the French arms company Thales with corruption.

The charges, denied by the firms, were included in the indictment against the former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, due to go on trial next year.

Mr Zuma has been formally indicted for corruption in connection with a multi-billion dollar arms deal.

Included are charges against local subsidiaries of Thales, which was previously known as Thomson CSF.

The Zuma case has already caused a serious split in South Africa's governing ANC.

Determined prosecutors

Mr Zuma is alleged to have solicited a bribe from the French firm in return for protecting it from corruption investigations.

Mr Zuma has always protested his innocence, and large sections of the ANC have rallied to his defence.

The local subsidiaries of Thales have also insisted that they have nothing to hide - a spokesman said they had never offered Mr Zuma money, and he had never asked for it.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips said the inclusion of the companies in the charge sheet shows how determined South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority is to secure a successful conviction.

However, it may also lead to a new round of legal challenges, potentially delaying the long-awaited trial of Jacob Zuma.

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