South Africa’s top court rejects ex-leader Zuma’s bid to overturn jail sentence

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Former South African President Jacob Zuma looks on in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, May 20, 2019, JACKIE CLAUSEN/Getty Images)
Former South African President Jacob Zuma looks on in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, May 20, 2019, JACKIE CLAUSEN/Getty Images)

South Africa’s top court ruled on Friday that former president Jacob Zuma failed in his bid to have his 15-month jail sentence for failing to attend a corruption inquiry overturned.

The sentence was handed down after Zuma failed to testify at an inquiry probing corruption during his 9-year rule, once seen as a test of post-apartheid South Africa’s ability to enforce the rule of law, particularly against powerful politicians.

Zuma, recuperating in hospital after undergoing surgery for an undisclosed illness, asked the court in July to revoke its sentence for contempt arguing it was excessive, and that jail would endanger his health and life.

In a majority decision, the court rejected his arguments.

It was the latest legal setback for the 79-year-old anti-apartheid veteran from the ruling African National Congress, whose presidency between 2009-2018 was marred by widespread allegations of graft and malfeasance.

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