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Ex-SA police chief 'took bribes'

6 October 09 19:21 GMT

A convicted drugs smuggler has told a court in South Africa that he paid its ex-police chief, Jackie Selebi, 1.2m rand ($157,000; £98,000) in bribes.

Glenn Agliotti testified that he had handed over cash-stuffed envelopes and bought handbags for Mr Selebi's wife.

Agliotti, who faces trial separately in connection with the murder of a mining tycoon, said he was kept informed of police investigations in exchange.

Mr Selebi says he is the victim of a conspiracy by state prosecutors.

While the former Interpol president has acknowledged his friendship with Agliotti, he pleaded not guilty to the three charges of corruption and defeating the end of justice at the start of his trial on Monday.

'Go-between'

In his testimony to Johannesburg's High Court on Tuesday, Agliotti said he had first met Mr Selebi in 1990, when the accused was in charge of the social welfare division of the now-governing African National Congress (ANC).

"Selebi indicated to me that he had his own problems and a medical bill that he needed to pay for one of his kids at the time. I gave him the money," he said.

"Initially I would pay from my own money. I would put it in an envelope. It was small amounts - 5,000 rand, 10,000 rand."

Agliotti, who will not be prosecuted for offences relating to Mr Selebi in return for his testimony, said two later payments were worth 120,000 and 200,000 rand.

After Mr Selebi was appointed South Africa's first black police commissioner in 2000, the two men and their partners would meet at an upmarket shopping centre in Johannesburg, Sandton City, Agliotti told the court.

"When the accused and I met, I enjoyed shopping and so did he. Him being my friend, I would instruct shop attendants to put all the clothes on my account," he said.

"For the accused's wife's birthday, I wanted to buy her a Louis Vuitton handbag from Sandton... a red patent one [that] cost 10,000 rand. [The] accused's wife came with me," he added.

Agliotti also said he had been a go-between for Mr Selebi and the mining tycoon, Brett Kebble, who wanted Mr Selebi to stop an investigation into his company and have charges against his father Roger dropped.

Agliotti has been charged in connection with Kebble's 2005 murder.

Lawyers for Mr Selebi say the charges against him are part of a conspiracy by the National Prosecuting Authority, which has previously been accused of being heavily politicised, especially in its prosecution of President Jacob Zuma.

Mr Selebi 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 they were part of a plot against him by Mr Mbeki's allies.

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