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Zuma’s lawyer says he will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry1 minute read

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrong doings

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Jacob Zuma will attend ‘prejudiced’ graft inquiry -lawyer
Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks with his lawyers at the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. (Photo by Themba Hadebe / POOL / AFP)

South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma, will attend a judicial inquiry into government graft during his tenure even though he believes it is prejudiced against him, his lawyer said.

Zuma’s lawyer Daniel Mantsha, on Tuesday, said:

“He is going to the commission as invited from July 15-19.”

However, “our client remains of the view that the commission is prejudiced against him and lacks the requisite impartiality,” Mantsha wrote separately in a letter to the inquiry seen by reporters.

It wasn’t specified in the letter if Zuma would testify or answer questions. It described last week’s invitation from the commission for Zuma to attend – in which it said he had been implicated in graft by at least nine witnesses – as part of a “disinformation campaign”.

The primary brief of the inquiry is to investigate corruption allegations, notably at state firms Eskom and South African Airways, which are in serious debt after years of mismanagement.

It is reviewing accusations that three prominent businessmen – brothers Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta — unduly influenced Zuma during his presidency about political appointments and the awarding of state contracts.

Jacob Zuma, who was forced out of office last year over corruption allegations, has denied any wrongdoings.

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Politics

Military prosecutors takeover probe of Burkina Faso jail deaths

Government prosecutors handed the high-profile investigation over to the military after announcing on Wednesday they found no evidence that a dozen men found dead in jail cells were shot.

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Burkina Faso sacks governors of jihadist-troubled regions
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso.

Military prosecutors in Burkina Faso have taken over investigations into the death of 12 of 25 people, earlier arrested on suspicion of terrorism, in their cells at the Tanwalbougou gendarmerie.

Government prosecutors handed the high-profile investigation over to the military after announcing on Wednesday they found no evidence that a dozen men found dead in jail cells were shot, an AFP report said.

Relatives of the men say they were executed by security forces in their cells at Tanwalbougou, in the east of the country, in a case that has been described as “unacceptable” by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore.

Human Rights Watch called last week for an independent investigation into the deaths, while CISC, a local group campaigning against what it says is the impunity of the security forces, said an international inquiry was needed.

The Burkina Faso government said that two investigations were launched, one judicial and the other administrative.

Prosecutors announced on May 13 that 12 of 25 people arrested on suspicion of terrorism had died in their cells at the Tanwalbougou gendarmerie.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, the prosecutors said that although there were no autopsies, they could conclude that the men did not die of gunshot wounds.

“In view of the evidence we have, the 12 people were not shot dead,” said Rasmane Bikienga, the prosecutor-general for the city of Fada N’Gourma.

The prosecutors said that other inmates did not hear gunfire, and that a medical certificate showed there were no obvious signs of bleeding or trauma.

The autopsy could not be carried out because doctors indicated that the bodies were already in a state of decay, another prosecutor said at the press briefing.

The case was being passed to military prosecutors for “further investigation if necessary”, Bikienga said.

President Kabore promised on Saturday “decisions (…) without hesitation” at the end of the investigations.

Local sources have told AFP that most of the men who died in the jail cells were Fulani.

Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries, has battled a jihadist insurgency since 2015. The conflict has provoked attacks on Fulani herders whom other communities accuse of supporting militants.

The country’s security forces, as well as local vigilante groups, have been repeatedly accused of abuses against the Fulani community in recent years.

The local human rights group CISC last week described what had happened as “summary executions”.

Witnesses told the group that all of the bodies had head wounds and that their shrouds were stained with blood, it said.

The group had said it was trying to find out what happened to others in the jail who were arrested at the same time.

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North Africa Politics

Algeria recalls its ambassador in France over airing of films on protests

Algeria’s interior ministry said films including two broadcast on Tuesday, while “seemingly spontaneous and under the pretext of freedom of expression, are in fact attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions” including the army.

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Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune

Algeria plans to “immediately” recall its ambassador from France for consultations after documentaries about the North African country’s anti-government protest movement were aired on French public television, officials said Wednesday. 

The interior ministry said films including two broadcast on Tuesday, while “seemingly spontaneous and under the pretext of freedom of expression, are in fact attacks on the Algerian people and its institutions” including the army.

Citing the “recurrent character” of such programmes on French public TV, it singled out two documentaries broadcast on Tuesday by France 5 and the former colonial power’s Parliamentary Channel.

Unprecedented mass protests rocked Algeria early last year to demand the departure of veteran president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, sparked by the ailing 82-year-old’s announcement that he would stand for a fifth term.

In April 2019 he resigned, and in December, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune was elected on an official turnout of less than 40 percent. Analysts say participation was considerably lower. 

Mass protests against the ruling system only halted when the novel coronavirus arrived in Algeria earlier this year.

Despite the movement suspending demonstrations since mid-March, a crackdown has continued against regime opponents and independent media.

– ‘Malicious and lasting intentions’ –

The films cited by the Algerian ministry had sparked fierce debates on social media. 

“Algeria, my love”, aired by France 5, told the story of the Hirak protest movement through the eyes of five Algerians in their 20s from across the country. 

Directed by French journalist of Algerian origin Mustapha Kessous, it broke with a number of taboos and highlighted sociocultural divisions driving the movement, triggering heated discussion on social networks.

The second film, “Algeria: the Promises of the Dawn” was broadcast on France’s Parliamentary Channel.

In its statement, the Algerian ministry cited what it said were “malicious and lasting intentions on the part of certain circles, which do not wish to see peaceful relations between Algeria and France after 58 years of independence”.

France Televisions, which owns France 5, declined to comment on the Algerian announcement on Wednesday evening.

France and Algeria have often had tense ties since Algeria won independence in 1962 after eight years of war.

In early April, the French ambassador to Algeria, Xavier Driencourt, was summoned to the foreign ministry after statements on the France 24 satellite news channel about Chinese medical aid.

Earlier in the year, Tebboune had called for “mutual respect” in Franco-Algerian relations, saying his country “will not accept any interference or tutelage” from abroad.

He was referring to statements made by French President Emmanuel Macron early on in the Hirak protest movement, calling for “a transition of reasonable duration” — remarks seen by Algiers as “interference” in its internal affairs.

In recent weeks, the Algerian government has repeatedly blamed “foreign” NGOs for influencing Algerian media outlets aiming to damage state institutions.

Last month, authorities blocked three news websites that had covered the protests.

Algeria ranks 146 out of 180 countries on RSF’s world press freedom index for 2020.

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East Africa Politics News

“I have not killed any Tutsis”, Rwandan genocide suspect Kabuga tells court

“Since 1994, Felicien Kabuga, known to have been the financier of Rwanda genocide, had with impunity stayed in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, or Switzerland,” a French justice ministry statement said.

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A wanted poster with a photograph of Felicien Kabuga is displayed at the French Gendarmerie's Central Office for Combating Crimes Against Humanity, Genocides and War Crimes (OCLCH) in Paris on May 19, 2020. © Benoît Tessier, REUTERS

Arrested Rwandan genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga has told a French court that the international charges against him are lies, affirming his innocence at the resumed hearing on Wednesday.

Asked if he understood the charges made against him by a United Nations tribunal, Kabuga dismissed the chargesheet as full of “lies”.

“All of this is lies. I have not killed any Tutsis. I was working with them”, Kabuga told the court through an interpreter.

Kabuga, who was arrested near Paris earlier this month after more than two decades on the run, is accused of financing and arming the ethnic Hutu militia that slaughtered over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994.

France has not disclosed when and how Kabuga who had a $5m US reward on his head, entered France.

“Since 1994, Felicien Kabuga, accused of being a financier of Rwandan genocide, had stayed in Germany, Belgium, Congo-Kinshasa, Kenya, or Switzerland,” a French justice ministry statement said.

His ability to hide to evade an international manhunt for more than 20 years has raised questions over whether he had accomplices in foreign countries.

“It is difficult to imagine he could have escaped into French territory without the help of accomplices in such places,” Patrick Baudoin of the International Federation for Human Rights said.

The International Federation for Human Rights has supported survivors in the prosecution of other Rwandan genocide suspects living in France.

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