South African Julius Malema’s case thrown out

The case should be “struck off” because of lengthy delays in bringing him to trial, a judge ruled.

Mr Malema was charged in 2012 with money laundering, racketeering and corruption related to a government contract worth $4m (£2.5m).

He denied the charges, and said they were politically motivated.

Mr Malema formed the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party in 2013 following his expulsion from the governing African National Congress (ANC).

He is a fierce critic of President Jacob Zuma, and has campaigned against corruption.

Correspondents say the ruling is a big boost for Mr Malema’s career, and will fuel perceptions that he is the victim of an abuse of power.

Judge George Mothle said the case had dragged on for too long, and this was “prejudicial” to Mr Malema, South Africa’s News24 site reports.

“For now, the case is over, you are free to go,” the judge told Mr Malema.

However, he added, the defendant not been formally acquitted, so prosecutors could still charge him again.

Addressing his cheering supporters outside court, Mr Malema said the prosecution had “messed up” its case.

“Let them manufacture any new charges against me. They will never win,” he said.

“It is going to keep happening; there will be attempts on our lives,” Mr Malema added.

The charges related to a government contract awarded to a company in which Mr Malema held a stake through his family trust.

The contract was for the construction of roads in Mr Malema’s home region of Limpopo, when he was still the head of the governing party’s youth wing.

He was accused of “improperly” receiving money for the contract.

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