Posted on January 11, 2008

Interpol’s Head ‘To Be Charged’

BBC News, January 11, 2008

South Africa’s police chief Jackie Selebi is to be charged with corruption and “defeating the ends of justice”, state prosecutors say.

A court on Friday rejected an urgent application by Mr Selebi, who is also the president of Interpol, to try to stop the prosecution.

He is alleged to have received at least $170,000 (£90,000) from a convicted criminal over a five-year period.

Mr Selebi has been under investigation since last year and denies wrongdoing.

A prosecution affidavit refers to a “generally corrupt relationship” between Mr Selebi and local businessman Glen Agliotti.

Agliotti recently received a 10-year suspended prison sentence in a drugs case after entering into a plea bargain.

He is also accused of involvement in the 2005 killing of mining magnate Brett Kebble.

Correspondents say the charges are controversial in South Africa, with some accusing the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of playing a political role.

Supporters of the ruling ANC President Jacob Zuma have accused the NPA of pressing charges against him, as part of a power struggle between him and President Thabo Mbeki.


NPA acting head Mokotedi Mpshe said in court papers: “I have undertaken that if he is to be charged, he will not be arrested and an arrangement will be reached with his attorney for a date on which he has to appear in court”.

At Friday’s hearing in the high court in Pretoria, Presiding Judge Nico Coetzee said Mr Selebi’s application was “struck from the roll”.

“Considering the fact that we have an indictment running to many pages, considering the evidence that the first respondent [the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)] has in support of his argument . .  it is clear that if the applicant is not charged, the administration of justice will be brought into disrepute,” the judge said.

It is not clear when the indictment will be served.

The BBC’s Peter Biles in Johannesburg says the police commissioner is a controversial figure.

For the past year, the opposition Democratic Alliance has been calling for him to resign or be suspended because of his alleged links to criminal activity.

President Mbeki, who is said to be close to Mr Selebi, has consistently resisted calls for his police commissioner to be fired, saying he would not take any action until evidence of any wrongdoing was brought before him.

In another twist, one of the officials leading the Selebi investigation was himself charged with corruption earlier this week.


A decision by the NPA on whether to charge Mr Selebi had been awaited for some time, our correspondent says.

Last September, the NPA obtained two warrants: one for Mr Selebi’s arrest and the other a search warrant.

But these were not acted upon, until the case was reviewed.

The anti-crime unit known as the Scorpions has been investigating Mr Selebi.

Correspondents say the charging of Gerrie Nel, who was leading the probe, was a further twist in rivalry between the Scorpions and the police.

The Scorpions consists primarily of investigators who work hand-in-hand with prosecutors in the NPA.

The NPA recently charged Jacob Zuma, the new leader of the ruling African National Congress and the party’s presidential candidate, with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering.

Mr Zuma’s supporters reportedly want the Scorpions to be dissolved and brought under the control of the police, saying the case against him was political.