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Former Advisor to South African Deputy President on Trial - 2004-10-11

A South African court has opened the corruption trial of a former financial advisor to Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Prosecutors have alleged that Schabir Shaik gave Mr. Zuma nearly $200,000 in bribes from one of Mr. Shaik's companies, Nkobi Holdings.

He also is accused of passing bribes to Mr. Zuma on behalf of a French arms company, Thint Holdings, in exchange for avoiding a probe into the company's dealings in the country.

Both Mr. Schabir and Mr. Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.

At the start of the trial Monday, South African prosecutors dropped corruption charges against the French arms company. Officials say the move is part of a deal with the company's president, Alain Thetard, who has admitted to writing a letter allegedly confirming a bribe offer to Mr. Zuma.