A 'third force' at work in Selebi trial?

Is there a “third force” at work in the trial of former top cop Jackie Selebi?

That was the suggestion by Judge Meyer Joffe in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday morning when he grilled Selebi’s lawyer Jaap Cilliers about his quotation of a City Press article.

Cilliers handed to Joffe, witness Glenn Agliotti and the state copies of a front-page article in Sunday’s City Press, which details an alleged second video of Agliotti’s interviews with South Africa’s intelligence bosses.

Cilliers then started questioning Agliotti about what he allegedly told police crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego during a meeting at Sandton’s Balalaika Hotel on January 4 last year.

Joffe, clearly upset about the article, stopped Cilliers, ordered Agliotti to leave the courtroom, and said: “What is of great concern to me is that somebody is trying to influence the proceedings of this trial.

“It appears to me that somebody has shown the video to the reporter with intention of influencing proceedings in this courtroom,” said Joffe.

He added that an investigation would have to be launched to determine who had leaked the video to City Press.

Both Cilliers and chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel told Joffe they had no previous knowledge of the existence of the new video.

Cilliers, however, appeared to have worries in a different direction. “I am more concerned at this stage with doing the case for my client,” he told the court.
“With all respect, I don’t care how it came about that the reporter got it.”

Cilliers maintained that the video was pivotal, as it will show Agliotti as a witness lacking credibility. “The witness misled you when he tried to indicate how this meeting came about ... The witness clearly stated in his evidence in chief how the January 4 and January 7 statements came about. This clearly contradicts his version.”

Cilliers was referring to a statement Agliotti made to Mphego and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) on January 4 2008. Three days later, an interview by Mphego of Agliotti was videotaped at another Sandton hotel.

This video was shown to court last week.

City Press reported that the January 4 meeting, during which Agliotti allegedly handed Mphego and former NIA boss Manala Manzini his statement, was also secretly videotaped.

Nel objected to bringing the video into the questioning, saying he “cannot allow for a witness to be cross-examined on the details of a newspaper article”.

Joffe allowed Cilliers to merely ask Agliotti what he thinks of certain claims in the City Press article.

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