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World News

South African police chief quits as Interpol president

LONDON (Reuters) - South African police chief Jackie Selebi has resigned as president of Interpol to fight corruption allegations, the world police organization said on Sunday.

South African National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi speaks at the opening of a police station in Soshanguwe township near Johannesburg in this October 2006 file photo. Selebi has resigned as president of Interpol to fight corruption allegations, the world police organization said on Sunday. REUTERS/Paballo Theskiso/Files

Interpol said they had received a letter from Selebi which made clear that his decision was “made in the best interests of Interpol and out of respect for the global law enforcement community that it serves”.

The organization also praised Selebi for his work.

South African President Thabo Mbeki placed Selebi on extended leave on Saturday, a day after prosecutors said they would charge the police chief with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering. Selebi has denied any wrongdoing.

A copy of Selebi’s indictment, made available to the media by prosecutors, covers a range of charges that include receiving payments from his friend Glenn Agliotti, a convicted drug smuggler accused of playing a role in the 2005 murder of a South African mining magnate.

The indictment said between 2000 to 2005 Selebi received at least 1.2 million rand ($175,500) from Agliotti and his associates, including 30,000 rand from Agliotti a day or two after magnate Brett Kebble was killed.

The period in question overlaps with his tenure at Interpol, where Selebi became president in 2004. He was elected to the post by its general assembly, which brings together delegates from all member states worldwide.

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The president is not in charge of Interpol’s day-to-day running but presides over meetings of the assembly and executive committee and plays a major role in setting direction and strategy. Selebi’s four-year term was due to end this year.

Sunday’s statement followed a series of urgent Interpol meetings at its headquarters in Lyon, France, since the South African prosecutors said they would charge Selebi.

In a holding statement on Saturday, the 186-member organization had said it was monitoring the situation closely. It said Selebi had significantly helped Interpol and its member countries to enhance security and police cooperation worldwide.

The decision to charge him comes against the background of political tension in South Africa, where the new leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma, will be tried for corruption later this year.

Zuma won a bruising ANC leadership battle against Mbeki, who has been a strong supporter of Selebi.

editing by Elizabeth Piper

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