Jackie Selebi, South Africa's former national police chief and once a key figure in international law enforcement, was found guilty of corruption in Johannesburg on Friday.
JOHANNESBURG — Jackie Selebi, South Africa’s former national police chief and once a key figure in international law enforcement, was found guilty of corruption in Johannesburg on Friday.
Selebi, a one-time president of Interpol, was accused of providing favors to a drug trafficker in exchange for gifts of about $160,000 and an array of designer clothing: Canali ties, Hugo Boss knitwear, Louis Vuitton shoes and an Etienne Aigner leather jacket. The two men shopped together at high-fashion boutiques, though only one paid the bills.
For South Africa, the verdict was a reminder of two problems that occupy the headlines: crime and public corruption.
Judge Meyer Joffe concluded that Selebi, who headed the police force from 2000 to 2008, was someone of “low moral fiber” who showed “complete contempt for the truth.”
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Honestie Hodges, whose mistreatment by police led to changes, dies of COVID. She was 14.
- You should probably replace some of your fabric face masks
- Secret Hasidic wedding in Brooklyn draws thousands of guests, $15K fine
- Trump vents about election as agencies aid Biden transition
- Inside Bill Gates' high-stakes quest to vaccinate the world against COVID-19
Selebi, 60, was not asked to post bail and is free until his sentence is determined in hearings set to start July 14.
He was found not guilty on a related charge of defeating the ends of justice.
As he left the courthouse, Selebi said, “I don’t wish to say anything.”
During the trial, he derided the prosecution, claiming the case against him was cooked up by enemies who wanted to punish him for criticizing the Scorpions, an elite and now-defunct crime-fighting team.
The government’s main witness was Glenn Agliotti, a confessed drug kingpin. It was alleged that in exchange for his generosity, Selebi tipped him off about investigations and attended meetings with the smuggler’s business associates.
Agliotti admitted to being a habitual liar, and it sometimes seemed this confession was the only credible statement he made. In his final judgment, Joffe called Agliotti “one of the most untruthful and unreliable witnesses to testify in this court.”
But some of Agliotti’s testimony was confirmed by others. His former companion, Dianne Muller, said she had seen Selebi accept a bag of cash. She claimed to overhear a conversation in which the police chief requested about $1,300 for his son’s birthday party.
Selebi testified that his friendship with Agliotti was police work: “He was a friend for a particular purpose, whatever information I could siphon from him for the greater good.”
But the judge concluded he, too, was a relentless liar.
Thabo Mbeki appointed Selebi to be police chief even though he had no experience in law enforcement. In 2007, the president suspended the chief prosecutor who was attempting to bring Selebi to trial, before ordering Selebi to take a leave of his own.