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South African Judge to Rule Next Month on Zuma's Graft Charges

A South African judge said Tuesday that he would rule next month on ANC leader Jacob Zuma's bid to have a corruption case dismissed.

Judge Chris Nicholson told the court that he would likely announce a decision September 12.

The head of South Africa's ruling ANC party, Jacob Zuma, returned to Tuesday for the second day of a hearing to get his corruption and fraud case dropped.

Zuma and his lawyers say his prosecution is unlawful and unconstitutional. If the judge agrees, Zuma will have a clear path to run for the South African presidency. If not, it could mean the end of his bid to succeed Thabo Mbeki as president in 2009.

At Monday's hearing in the city of Pietermaritzburg, Zuma's lawyer argued that authorities did not follow constitutional procedure when charging him in December with racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.

Thousands of Zuma's supporters gathered outside the courthouse and cheered as he emerged from the building. They denounced the charges as politically motivated.

Zuma is accused of accepting bribes from a French arms company (Thint) to stop a probe into a controversial weapons deal.

A long trial could overlap with general elections next year and cast uncertainty over South African politics.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.