In South Africa, the former financial
adviser to ANC ruling party president Jacob Zuma has been released from prison.
Shabir Shaik has served less than two and a half years of a 15-year sentence
for fraud and corruption.
correspondent Scott Bobb, Johannesburg, says, "According
to corrections officials, he was released on medical parole, which is a release
granted prisoner who are terminally ill. He has been in the hospital for most
of his sentence complaining of high blood pressure, chest pains and other
ailments. So the decision was made that he is severely ill and should be sent
home and he went home Tuesday morning on a stretcher."
controversial arms deal was at the heart of Shaik's conviction. Bobb says,
"Basically he was found guilty of trying to solicit a half a million
rand…bribe, which at today's rate of exchange is about $50,000, for then deputy
president Jacob Zuma, who is now the ANC's candidate for president in elections
Shaik's conviction had a direct effect
on Jacob Zuma's career. "First of all, his close association with Mr. Zuma led
to Mr. Zuma being sacked as deputy president. And he has been spending the
subsequent time defending himself in various courts on other fraud and
corruption charges. But these charges stemmed largely from the successful
conviction of Shabir Shaik," says Bobb.
Asked whether Shaik might testify at
Zuma's corruption trial, currently set for August, Bobb says, "I haven't seen
much on that because he probably would be seen as discredited as a witness. But
what this has done is cause a storm of controversy because the opposition
parties and many critics believe that Shabir Shaik was not terminally ill.
Normally, prisoners are released when they are about to die and this is a
humanitarian gesture to let them go home and be with their families in their
last days. But the feeling is that Shabir, who has spent most of his prison
term in the hospital, has basically been seeking to avoid the harsh realities
of prison life. And, of course, time will tell whether or not he is terminally
ill, but this has created a lot of criticism, which, of course, his defenders