/ 16 March 2009

Arms company Thint files papers for stay of prosecution

French arms company Thint on Monday filed papers in the Pietermaritzburg High Court arguing that the state should drop the fraud and corruption case against it.

Thint’s attorneys filed papers for a permanent stay of prosecution, part of which was based ”on an infringement of their rights to a fair trial”.

The stack of papers was handed to the court before noon.

The accused in the case are African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma, Thint Holdings (Southern Africa) and Thint.

They face charges of racketeering, corruption and money laundering.

Thint allegedly paid Zuma R500 000 a year in exchange for protection from investigations into the country’s multibillion-rand arms deal.

The payment was, according to charges faced by the company, allegedly facilitated by Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

None of the accused have pleaded to the charges yet.

Zuma is expected to file his own application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the same court on May 18.

In the notice of motion, counsel for Thint — Shamin Rampersad and Associates — said the decision by the National Director of Public Prosecutions to re-indict Thint was ”unconstitutional and invalid”.

Arguing for a permanent stay of prosecution, the company wanted to interdict the state ”from proceeding with the prosecution of the second and third accused on ”any other charges which might arise out of … the charges referred to in the indictment… ”.

Thint also wanted the state to pay the costs of the application.

The papers were accompanied by affidavits from Pierre Moynot, the managing director and chief executive officer of Thint Holdings Southern Africa and Thint, Christine Guerrier, Alain Thetard, Robert Driman and Advocate Ajay Sooklal.

In the founding affidavit, Moynot said their application for a permanent stay of prosecution was based on an ”infringement of their rights to a fair trial”.

Part of the infringement arose from ”a breach by the state of an agreement concluded between the state and the third accused”.

”… a second infringement of the second and third accused’s right to a fair trial arises out of what has transpired in relation to the [Schabir] Shaik matter.

”The second and third accused also submit that the promise which formed the basis of the agreement gave rise to a legitimate expectation, which the state has failed to meet or honour,” the papers stated. — Sapa