Sentenced

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When Jacob Sello "Jackie" Selebi gave a speech upon becoming South Africa's police commissioner in 2000, he said tackling corruption would be a priority "so that we can fight crime with clean hands." Unfortunately for South Africa, Selebi did make corruption a priority--just not combating it. In July the former police chief and former president of Interpol was convicted of graft, and on Aug. 3 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Selebi was found guilty of taking bribes from a drug lord and current murder suspect who opted to testify for the prosecution. Judge Meyer Joffe admonished him as "an embarrassment to all right-thinking citizens in this country." The high-profile, nine-month-long Johannesburg trial followed years of investigation. It forced a spotlight onto the country's graft troubles, which tie in to a seamy underworld. Selebi, an ally of former President Thabo Mbeki, is one of the most senior government officials to be convicted of corruption. Selebi plans to appeal.