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Ex-Interpol Chief Found Guilty of Graft in S. Africa

South Africa’s High Court found former police chief Jackie Selebi guilty of graft for taking money from businessmen.

Judge Meyer Joffe found Selebi, a former president of Interpol, received 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. Selebi was also accused of having links to a syndicate that trafficked people, drugs and stolen goods, according to the charge sheet.

“Having considered all the evidence and the arguments advanced by counsels of the state and the accused, the accused is found guilty of corruption,” Joffe said in a ruling delivered in Johannesburg today. He found Selebi not guilty 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.

Dressed in a grey suit and orange tie, Selebi declined to comment when he left the court after hearing the ruling. He was released on bail of 5,000 rand ($650) and is required to return for sentencing on July 14.

Mbeki Ally

Selebi, a former lawmaker and ambassador to the United Nations, was an ally of former President Thabo Mbeki. The ruling African National Congress ousted Mbeki as its leader in December 2007, with allegations that he fired the country’s top prosecutor for refusing to stop the trial against Selebi helping to erode of his support base.

During the eight-month trial, Joffe said Selebi was “a stranger to the truth,” of “low moral fiber” and contradicted his own evidence.

“The judgment to us is a reflection of the proper administration of justice and it’s an indication of the justice not only done, but as seen by the public as manifestly done,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told reporters outside the downtown courthouse.

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.

Mining Magnate

Agliotti was charged with arranging the murder of mining magnate Brett Kebble in September 2005. Agliotti said in an affidavit that the killing was a planned and assisted suicide. His trial is scheduled to resume on July 26.

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.

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