/ 3 March 2009

Selebi’s lawyers accuse state of contempt of court

Lawyers for suspended police chief Jackie Selebi served a contempt of court application on the state for failing to hand over documents, the Star reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, the application was served after the state failed to hand over documents they were ordered to provide to Selebi’s lawyers by the Johannesburg High Court.

Selebi’s lawyer Wynanda Coetzee said the national police commissioner was still considering his options in regard to the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) failure to hand over information he had asked for.

NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the state would put up a fight if Selebi insisted on pursuing his contempt application.

”If the defence proceeds with the application for committal, the state will certainly oppose it,” he said.

Last month the Johannesburg High Court ordered the Scorpions to hand over almost all outstanding documents Selebi says he needs to prepare for his trial.

”Clearly, if the defendant’s team is not furnished with the statements and/or the right to consult with witnesses … there is a real likelihood, a real possibility that the accused will not enjoy a fair trial,” Judge Nico Coetzee said in February.

Selebi’s team had submitted 57 ”prayers”, court jargon for what they wanted the court to order and, said Coetzee, apart from three modifications, they had reached agreement on everything.

Selebi had complained that he was battling to get the NPA’s investigative unit, the Scorpions, to hand over the information he needed to analyse it or to test witnesses’ credibility ahead of his April 14 trial when he would face charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice. — Sapa