/ 5 March 2009

Selebi, NPA battle continues

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and lawyers for suspended police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi have their hands full with two more legal issues as his April 14 trial date approaches.

NPA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed on Thursday that it would appeal an order to hand over certain documents that Selebi had said he needs in order to prepare for his trial.

”We filed our papers on Monday,” said Tlali.

The Johannesburg High Court ruled in favour of Selebi in February.

His lawyers had argued that access to many of the documents on which the state’s case is based is his right in terms of constitutional provisions on the right to prepare one’s defence so that the trial will be fair.

The NPA’s view is that it had not refused to hand over these documents, and it had given the information that it undertook to hand over.

But, explained Tlali, the NPA disagrees on whether Selebi is legally entitled to some of the documents.

At the same time, Selebi’s lawyers have told the NPA that they intend pursuing a contempt of court order from the same court over the disputed documents.

The Johannesburg High Court will inform the parties of the outcome of the application for leave to appeal, and, said Tlali, the contempt matter is not on the court roll yet.

Selebi’s corruption and fraud case covers an intricate web that includes allegations of receiving money from slain mining boss Brett Kebble through a convicted drug trafficker.

Selebi argues that he is being framed in a political battle over the future of the NPA’s investigative unit, the Scorpions. — Sapa