French arms company Thint yesterday tried to convince Constitutional Court judges about the proper way to interpret the International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act
Posted by African Press International on March 16, 2008
Johannesburg (South Africa) – Lawyers for African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma, the state and French arms company Thint yesterday tried to convince Constitutional Court judges about the proper way to interpret the International Co-operation in Criminal Matters Act.
The interpretation was at the centre of Zuma and Thint’s application to have a letter of request issued by the Durban High Court in terms of section 2(2) of the act set aside. Zuma and Thint said the state used the section that gave it the right to request information for investigation purposes, and not for evidence to be presented at trial.
They argued that section 2(2) limited the state to gather information for investigation, and not for evidence. The state should have used section 2(1), which provided for the request for evidence at the beginning of the trial. They argued this would give Zuma and Thint the right to challenge the admission of evidence.
The Durban High Court letter requested the attorney-general of Mauritius to supply 14 original documents in the possession of Mauritian officials. The documents include the 2000 diary of Alain Thetard, the former director of Thint, in which an entry allegedly notes that Thetard had a meeting with Zuma and his financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, where a bribe of R500000 was discussed.
Wim Trengove SC, for the state, argued that the prosecution was correct in requesting the documents in terms of section 2(2) because the state required the documents for the purpose of investigating crime.
“Section 2(2) is a tool provided for the executive to investigate crime, to gather information for the purposes of a criminal investigation. Section 2(2) should be operational until after the beginning of criminal proceedings,” Trengove said.
He said the point where the criminal proceedings commenced was when the accused had pleaded. In Zuma’s case, the state relied on section 2(2) to gather information that could later be used as evidence because the charges against Zuma were struck off the roll in September 2006. ” (Section 2(1)) is the mechanism of the trial court while 2(2) is an executive tool used to investigate crime. Investigation also means gathering all evidence so as to prosecute the case,” Trengove said
Kemp J Kemp SC, for Zuma, argued that the primary purpose of section 2(2) was for the state to get information to enable it to decide whether to prosecute. Kemp said the state had not shown how it intended to use the originals in its investigation. “This is an attempt simply to get documents to present them at trial.” he said.
The court reserved judgment. The first two days dealt with the challenge of Zuma, his lawyer Michael Hulley and Thint against the validity of the search and seizure warrants issued by Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe in August 2005. The warrants resulted in the state seizing 93000 documents from the offices of Hulley and Thint and from the homes and former offices of Zuma.
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