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Zuma raises the stakes by filing criminal charges against prosecutor Billy Downer.

Former President Jacob Zuma filed a criminal complaint with the South African Police Service on Thursday afternoon, demanding that advocate Billy Downer, the lead prosecutor in his graft case, be investigated for allegedly leaking a "confidential" medical report to a News24 journalist via a third party in August.

Given that Zuma's special plea for Downer's dismissal is unlikely to succeed, the filing of criminal proceedings could be considered as a fallback plan. The former president would then be able to convince the court that his trial cannot proceed until the police investigation is completed.

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Nonetheless, Zuma wants investigators to look into Downer's alleged 2008 disclosure of classified information to investigative journalist Sam Sole, according to his eight-page sworn statement filed with the Pietermaritzburg Police Station.

According to Zuma, the episodes were part of a pattern of illegal information leaking that he had to deal with during the long-running Arms Deal case. Zuma stated that "there is evidence that criminal behavior has taken place in an attempt to corrupt my inquiry and prosecution for unlawful reasons" during the Arms Deal case being debated in the high court. The 79-year-old was met by a small but delighted crowd as his personal protection team drove him through a flurry of journalists into the police station in a BMW motorcade with daughter Duduzile at his side.

Former NDPP head Leonard McCarthy, who was also the head of the NPA's now-defunct investigations arm known as the Scorpions, and former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, according to Hofmeyr's affidavit, were part of a cabal that used their positions and influence to politically support then-president Thabo Mbeki and target Zuma.

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Zuma was released on medical parole last month after serving just over two months of a 15-month sentence for failing to comply with a Constitutional Court order to continue his testimony before the Zondo Commission. Zuma is requesting Downer's dismissal, claiming the senior prosecutor lacks "independence and impartiality" and hence is unable to conduct a "lawful prosecution" that will protect his constitutional rights to a fair trial.

The National People's Alliance has asked for the plea application to be denied. In September, during arguments for and against the plea application, Zuma's lawyer, Dali Mpofu SC, told the court that the alleged leak of his medical information to Maughan "was one of the most troubling problems for Mr Zuma," who was assessing his legal options at the time.

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"While the law must be allowed to run its course, the NPA is concerned about the context in which these charges were brought, as well as the timing, given the High Court's upcoming decision." Adv Downer SC is a well-liked prosecutor who has maintained a high level of professionalism throughout his time with the NPA.

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