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'no person is above the law'

Former South African President Jacob Zuma sentenced to 15 months in prison

Jacob Zuma, the former president of South Africa, has been sentenced to more than a year in prison for contempt of court. 

The Constitutional Court of South Africa on Tuesday sentenced the former president to 15 months in prison after he refused to appear at an anti-corruption commission looking into alleged corruption during his presidency, CNN reports. Zuma served as president from 2009 through 2018. 

"There can be no doubt that Mr Zuma is in contempt of court," Justice Sisi Khampepe said. "No person is above the law ... whatever his rank or condition. An act of defiance in respect of a direct judicial order has the potential to precipitate a constitutional crisis." 

Khampepe also said that Zuma, who has denied the allegations of corruption, conducted a "politically motivated smear campaign" against the court. 

CNN described this as a "landmark move in the country's long-running corruption saga," and outside of this inquiry, Zuma is also facing charges of racketeering, corruption, fraud, and money laundering after he was accused of taking bribes as deputy president, The New York Times reports. Zuma "is a polarizing figure in South Africa," the Times writes, but "he retains considerable support, raising the risk of protests by sympathizers and supporters." According to The Associated Press, this was the first time a former president of South Africa was sentenced to prison in the country's history.