6 Oct 2009

Former police chief on trial in Johannesburg

5:43 am on 6 October 2009

A former South African police chief is on trial on corruption charges: Jackie Selebi is accused of having links with organised crime.

He has pleaded not guilty in the High Court in Johannesburg.

Mr Selebi, 58, resigned as president of Interpol after being charged with having links to organised crime and accepting bribes worth 1.2 million rand ($US157,000).

The BBC reports the case is seen as a test of the justice system.

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

Defence lawyers claim the charges are part of a conspiracy by the National Prosecuting Authority.

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

The BBC reports Mr Selebi was a close ally of former President Thabo Mbeki, a bitter rival of Mr Zuma.

Corruption charges against Mr Zuma were dropped shortly before he became president in April.