South Africa ex-police chief Selebi jailed for 15 years

Judge Joffe Meyer: "You were an embarrassment to the office that you occupied"

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A South African court has sentenced former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi to 15 years in jail for corruption.

Selebi, a former president of Interpol, was convicted in July of receiving bribes from a drug dealer.

Convicted dealer Glenn Agliotti paid Selebi 1.2m rand ($156,000; £103,000) to turn a blind eye to his business.

Selebi is the most senior official appointed by the country's government to have been convicted of corruption.

The sentence is the minimum recommended for senior police officers found guilty of corruption.

Judge Joffe Meyer in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg described Selebi as "an embarrassment" and a "stranger to the truth" in the witness box.

"At no stage during the trial did the accused display any indication of remorse. The accused lied and fabricated evidence in an effort to escape the consequences of his conduct," the judge said.

'No fallen angel'

Selebi was given 14 days to file an appeal. During this time he will be free on bail.

Wearing a grey suit and a light pink shirt, Selebi sat and listened to the 45-minute judgement without showing emotion.

The scene in court

Inside the courtroom there was silence when the judge handed down sentence. There was no reaction from Selebi's family, including his wife.

Minutes after Judge Meyer Joffe's ruling, Jackie Selebi's brother George protested to scores of journalists outside court that his brother had been sentenced by "an apartheid judge".

Prosecutors said they hoped the sentence would "send a strong message that corruption will not the tolerated".

Mr Selebi refused to comment. But now the man who for eight years was responsible for leading South Africa's fight against crime is destined for jail.

The humiliation is now complete for Jackie Selebi.

The 60-year-old was well connected in the ruling African National Congress government.

He was also a former president of the ANC Youth League, served as South Africa's representative at the UN and was a close ally of former President Thabo Mbeki.

"The fall that the accused already had must have been one of the greatest falls known in our legal history," Selebi's defence lawyer Jaap Cilliers told a court hearing on Monday, as a judge considered Selebi's sentence.

Selebi's defence team had asked the judge to consider a suspended jail term and a fine.

He has already forfeited 320,722 rand ($43,800, £27,500) as the proceeds of crime.

But prosecutors said Selebi had shown no remorse for his actions.

"We don't have a fallen angel here. A fallen angel admits when they make a mistake," prosecutor Gerrie Nel had said.

During the trial the court heard how Selebi had spent thousands of dollars on shopping sprees with the money he was given by Agliotti.

Agliotti, who gave evidence against Selebi in return for immunity on bribery charges, is himself on trial for murdering a mining tycoon.

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