Ex South African police chief gets prison term

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Former South Africa national police commissioner and president of Interpol Jackie Selebi was on Tuesday slapped with a 15 year jail term by Judge Meyer Joffe in the South Gauteng High Court with the judge saying “If you thought the court would believe you, that is an embarrassment.”

Selebi was found guilty of corruption on July 2 for receiving payments from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti. He has 14 days to apply otherwise he has to report for prison after a lapse of 48 hours after the 14 day period, reports say.

“I am satisfied that a sentence of 15 years imprisonment is appropriate in the matter,” said Joffe. Joffe found it beyond understanding that Selebi thought that the court would accept evidence that he sometimes manufactured. “If you thought the court would believe you, that is an embarrassment.”

Joffe said Selebi was aware of his illustrious position and that police and citizens looked up to him, and that Selebi could have said no when Agliotti approached him with money and gifts. He has already forfeited 320,722 rand (about $43,800) as the proceeds of crime.

During the lengthy trial the court heard that convicted dealer Agliotti paid Selebi 1.2m rand (about $156,000) to turn a blind eye to his business. This would have been expected from a junior constable earning a pittance, the judge said.

And Selebi, the most senior official appointed by South African government to have been convicted of corruption, was well connected in the ruling African National Congress. He was appointed national police commissioner of the South African Police Service by former President Thabo Mbeki on 1 January 2000.

He was also president of the Interpol from 2004 but resigned on 13 January 2008 after he was charged with corruption and defeating the ends of justice relating to his relationship with self-confessed drug trafficker Agliotti.

After sentencing Selebi is quoted saying: “I’m all right. I have nothing to say …it’s still a long way”.

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