/ 18 February 2009

Selebi is being framed, claims lawyer

Jackie Selebi is being framed, the police national commissioner’s lawyer told the Johannesburg High Court on Wednesday.

”The accused is being framed,” Jaap Cilliers said on Wednesday as he sought documents from the state needed to prepare Selebi’s defence.

Selebi is facing charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice.

The state alleges that convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti, murdered mining entrepreneur Brett Kebble and former Hyundai boss and mining entrepreneur Billy Rautenbach and other ”relevant corporate entities” made corrupt payments to Selebi between January 1 2000 and December 31 2005.

”The main state witnesses … their jobs were the framing of people,” Cilliers told the court on Wednesday.

He submitted that, by their own admission, Agliotti and Clinton Nassif framed and ”knocked” people.

Cilliers explained that knocking was when people drew money from an account, ostensibly to pay a bribe, but instead kept the money for themselves.

Selebi’s lawyers want the court to order that the state hand over documents and financial statements on which the state is basing its case. Cilliers said Selebi needed the evidence secured by the state relating to the witnesses to test their credibility ahead of his trial in April.

The police commissioner made the application to the court saying that in spite of repeated efforts to secure information to prepare for the case hardly anything was forthcoming from the state.

”We find it unbelievable, I have never encountered this in 25 years,” said Cilliers, raising his hands in exasperation.

With Scorpions investigators Andrew Leask and George Hardaker and prosecutor Gerrie Nel looking on, Cilliers said they constantly said that the information was either not relevant or they simply refused to give it to him.

He said it was ”unbelievable” that the state proceeded with Selebi’s arrest without statements from key witnesses.

”And that clearly indicates my lord, some strange motives … they are playing games with us,” Cilliers said.

”We find it unbelievable that you want to arrest the national commissioner of police on allegations [relating to the Misty Mountain company] but you have no financial records of Misty Mountain.”

This is allegedly one of the accounts along with another, String Lights, set up to funnel money to Selebi for favours.

He said the state either does not understand the relevance ”or they are playing games”.

He wanted to know on what basis they could refuse to provide statements made by their main witness, Agliotti, so that they could test his credibility.

Cilliers said it was strange and suspicious that they would not supply the original Selebi arrest warrant.

Selebi first appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in February 2007 and his trial is due to start in April.

Cilliers said they wanted to question some of the witnesses to prepare their case but found that the state had already taken those witnesses so they were not able to question them themselves.

He said some of the witnesses were involved in framing activity.

They would arrange for drugs to be planted on people to lead to an arrest.

”They bombed Microsoft’s offices, that’s the type of people they are,” he said, underlining the defence’s need to test their credibility.

The court was adjourned until Thursday when the state will present its side of the story.

Speaking outside the court, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Tlali Tlali said it was important to understand that the Johannesburg High Court hearing was dealing with processes and not the merits of the case.

”We need to exercise patience until our side of the story has been heard,” he said.

Selebi was not in court. — Sapa