Jackie Selebi, South Africa’s former police chief and a one-time president of Interpol, was sentenced to 15 years in prison by the country’s High Court following his conviction on corruption charges.
“It is inconceivable that the person who occupied the office of the national commissioner of police could have been such a stranger to the truth,” Judge Meyer Joffe said in delivering the sentence in Johannesburg today. “You must have been an embarrassment to all right-thinking citizens of this country.”
On July 2, Joffe found Selebi had taken hundreds of thousands of rand in payments between 2000 and 2005 from three businessmen, including murder suspect Glen Agliotti, that “made no legitimate business sense” and were intended as bribes. He found Selebi not guilty of a separate charge of defeating the ends of justice.
Prosecutors said Selebi had been informed in 2002 that Agliotti was involved in drug smuggling yet took no action against him, and that he shared secret information with Agliotti about police investigations.
During the eight-month trial, Joffe said Selebi was “a stranger to the truth,” of “low moral fiber” and contradicted his own evidence.
Selebi said that Agliotti was his friend and there was nothing illicit about their relationship. He repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers argued that the state had failed to prove his guilt.
Agliotti was charged with arranging the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble in September 2005. He said in an affidavit that the killing was a planned and assisted suicide.
Though Selebi showed Agliotti a confidential document from U.K. intelligence authorities that were tracking his movements, the court found that this did not interfere with any legal proceedings against him.
Selebi was appointed president of Interpol, the world’s largest international police organization, in October 2004 and resigned in January 2008 after he was charged with graft. Interpol’s General Assembly, comprising delegates from the 188 member countries, elects the Lyon-based organization’s president every four years.