Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 13:02 UK

Ex-Interpol man denies corruption

File photo of South Africa's national Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi
Jackie Selebi resigned as head of Interpol last year

South Africa's former chief of police Jackie Selebi has pleaded not guilty at the start of his corruption trial.

He resigned as Interpol president after being charged with having links to organised crime and accepting bribes worth 1.2m rand ($157,000, £98,000).

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Johannesburg says his case is seen as a test of a much-criticised justice system.

He is a senior member of the ruling African National Congress and the trial could have political ramifications.

As he left court, Mr Selebi said: "I am ready to drop bombshells."

His lawyers said the charges were part of a conspiracy against him by the National Prosecuting Authority.

1987: Head of ANC Youth League
1991: In charge of repatriating ANC exiles
1994: Elected MP
1995: South Africa's ambassador to UN
2000: Appointed police chief
2004: Elected Interpol president
2008: Charged with corruption, resigns as Interpol head, suspended as SA police chief
2009: Denies charges at start of trial

They said the NPA had offered criminals immunity from prosecution if they testified against Mr Selebi.

The NPA has previously been accused of being heavily politicised, especially in its prosecution of President Jacob Zuma.

During the case at Johannesburg's High Court, prosecutors will seek to prove that Mr Selebi, 58, received corrupt payments over a five-year period.

The South African Press Association says he stood solemnly in a grey suit as the charges against him - two of corruption and one of defeating the end of justice - were read out.

"I plead not guilty," he said.

At the heart of the allegations is Mr Selebi's relationship with convicted drug smuggler, Glen Agliotti, who is also accused of links to the murder of a prominent mining magnate.

Prosecutors allege that Agliotti paid bribes and gifts to the police commissioner in exchange for turning a blind eye to drugs trafficking.

Mr Selebi, who was South Africa's first black police chief, was a close ally of former President Thabo Mbeki, a bitter rival to Mr Zuma.

Corruption charges against Mr Zuma were dropped shortly before he became president after elections in April. He said those were part of a plot against him by Mbeki allies.

Mr Selebi was a political appointee and had no previous experience of policing when he was appointed as police chief in 2000.

When the allegations of corruption first surfaced, opposition parties accused Mr Mbeki of protecting Mr Selebi.

His contract was extended even after he had been charged with corruption.

The case has now been adjourned until Tuesday.

Print Sponsor

SA's controversial police chief
05 Oct 09 |  Africa
Big jump in S Africa sex offences
22 Sep 09 |  Africa
Zuma tells SA police to get tough
29 Sep 09 |  Africa
SA abolishes crime-fighting unit
23 Oct 08 |  Africa
SA extends police chief contract
26 Jun 08 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
21 Jun 11 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific