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South Africa parliament backs removal of chief prosecutor

[JURIST] The National Assembly of South Africa [official website] voted 232-60 [press release] Thursday in support of the decision of President Kgalema Motlanthe [official profile] to fire the country's chief prosecutor Vusi Pikoli [Who's Who profile]. The vote endorsed [Times report] the findings [committee report, DOC] of a committee set up to investigate the dismissal. The report determined the firing was legal under § 12 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998, finding:

The majority of the Members of the Committee find that the President complied with the provisions of the National Prosecuting Authority Act, 1998. ... The Committee finds that the President applied his mind properly on this matter. The Committee endorses the President's decision to remove Adv Pikoli from the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. The opposition parties in the Committee, however, are unanimously of the view that Adv Pikoli should be reinstated to his position as National Director of Public Prosecutions.
The committee decision was based on the concern that Pikoli's lack of sensitivity to matters of national security - as evidenced by his handling of the Browse Mole Report [report, DOC], the vetting and search of the Union Buildings, and the arrest and prosecution of the National Commissioner of South African Police Service (SAPS), Jackie Selebi [official profile; JURIST news archive] - poses a serious threat to South African stability.

Pikoli was suspended [JURIST report] by former South African President Thabo Mbeki [official profile] following his prosecution of Former INTERPOL president and South Africa police commissioner Selebi. He maintains that his dismissal is politically motivated. Selebi was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] with corruption and fraud after investigations implicated that he had an improper relationship with Glenn Agliotti [Mail and Guardian report], a convicted drug smuggler suspected of involvement in the murder of South African mining head Brett Keeble. He is accused of receiving $170,000 in bribes from Agliotti and turning a blind eye to Agliotti's drug trafficking. Selebi's trial is set to begin [JURIST report] in April.

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