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20.07.2012 South Africa

Jailed for graft, S. Africa's top cop gets medical parole

Jackie Selebi.  By Werner Beukes (AFP/Pool/File)
LISTEN JUL 20, 2012
Jackie Selebi. By Werner Beukes (AFP/Pool/File)

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa's former police chief and ex-Interpol president Jackie Selebi, who last year was jailed for 15 years for corruption, has been granted medical parole, the prisons minister said Friday.

Since he began his jail term, Selebi, who suffers from diabetes and kidney disease, had spent most of his time in a Pretoria prison hospital.

"Mr Selebi will be going home today, Friday," Correctional Services Minister Sibusiso Ndebele said.

"The department has limited capacity to provide for the palliative care needed by some offenders."

In July 2010, Selebi was convicted of accepting cash and lavish gifts from convicted drug dealer Glenn Agliotti, amounting to more than 1.2 million rand ($148,000 dollars, 110,000 euros).

The offences took place over a five-year period, during his time in office.

According to Ndebele, the decision to free Selebi was taken by a medical parole advisory board last month.

"He should have been allowed to go home a while ago already. His situation is very serious and he is very ill," Selebi's lawyer Wynanda Coetzee told the national news agency SAPA.

Selebi's case exposed the extent of corruption in the top echelons of the South African police service. His successor, Bheki Cele, was himself sacked last month over graft accusations.

Selebi, a non-career cop, was appointed national police commissioner in 2000 by former president Thabo Mbeki.

He was president of Interpol between 2004 to 2008, although he had no formal police training.

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