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South Africa court convicts former INTERPOL chief of corruption

A South African court on Friday convicted former INTERPOL [official website] president and South African police chief Jackie Selebi [official profile; JURIST news archive] on corruption charges but found him not guilty on charges of obstruction of justice. Selebi was charged [JURIST report] with receiving $170,000 in bribes from convicted drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti [Guardian profile], who was suspected of killing South African mining magnate Brett Kebble. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] at the beginning of his trial in October, claiming that the charges against him were fabricated in retaliation for his corruption investigation of two members of the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [official website]. The court rejected Selebi's defense of a conspiracy against him and found him guilty of granting favors [BBC report] to Agliotti in exchange for money and gifts totaling USD $156,000. A spokesperson for the ruling African National Congress [party website] party praised the South African judicial system [press release], stating that Selebi's conviction "clearly indicates that South Africa as a country is governed by laws that are applied without any fear or favour to anyone, regardless of their standing." Selebi is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14. He could face up to 15 years in prison.

Selebi was a close political ally of former South African president Thabo Mbeki [BBC profile], and the South African government extended [BBC report] Selebi's contract for an additional year in June 2008, around the time a court established [JURIST report] Selebi's trial date. Selebi was suspended from his police post and forced to resign as INTERPOL president after the NPA announced the impending charges [JURIST reports]. The NPA has alleged that Selebi ignored Agliotti's drug trafficking and warned Agliotti that he had been identified in a murder investigation.

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