A South African court on Tuesday sentenced former INTERPOL [official website] president and South African police chief Jackie Selebi [official profile; JURIST news archive] to 15 years in prison for corruption. Selebi was convicted of corruption [JURIST report] in July for receiving $170,000 in bribes from convicted drug smuggler Glenn Agliotti [Mail & Guardian profile], who was suspected of killing South African mining magnate Brett Kebble. Judge Meyer Joffe of the South Gauteng High Court, in sentencing Selebi, stated that he had lied and fabricated evidence [AP report], showing no remorse for his actions. Joffe also described him as an embarrassment to the country. Selebi's family members have alleged that he is a scapegoat used to protect corrupt officials nationwide. The Inkatha Freedom Party [party website], a South African political party, called the sentence [press release] "too lenient," continuing:
While the IFP welcomes today's sentencing, we believe that Mr Selebi's sentence is too lenient and he deserved a lengthier jail term. He was not only an embarrassment to the SAPS but to the country's image abroad because of his involvement with Interpol. The IFP is pleased that today's sentencing will repair some of the damage inflicted on the SAPS's public image by its former police chief. Moreover, we hope that the sentence will send out a clear message to all police officers and corrupt officials that corruption will not be tolerated and that no one is above the law, not even those with powerful political connections.Selebi was freed following the sentencing on $2,700 bond pending appeal.
Selebi 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 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 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.