State has a ‘prima facie case’ against Selebi

Even if drug dealer Glenn Agliotti honestly believed he wasn't bribing Jackie Selebi, South Africa's former top cop could still be convicted of corruption for accepting Agliotti's money with a guilty mind.

This was chief prosecutor Gerrie Nel's argument in the South Gauteng High Court on Thursday afternoon, where he opposed Selebi's application for a discharge.

Nel told Judge Meyer Joffe that the only test for granting a discharge was whether a "reasonable person, on the evidence, may convict an accused person. Not should convict, but may convict."

This, Nel argued, was not the case in the Selebi trial. "We have more than a reasonable case. We have a prima facie case."

'Worst witness'
Nel strongly disagreed with Selebi's counsel Jaap Cilliers that the credibility of state witnesses was a key issued to be determined during the application.

During his address of one and a half days, Cilliers spent most of the time attacking the credibility of main state witness Glenn Agliotti, who he said could be the "worst witness" to testify in a South African court.

But according to Nel, credibility is not relevant in determining a discharge application.

"Mr Cilliers argued that this is a strange case. I don't think it's strange. What is strange, is that for a day and a half we heard arguments how bad the case is. I'm going to argue that this is a very strong case," Nel said.

He added the state did not have to prove Agliotti's guilt to convict Selebi. "It is of no consequence what the intention of the giver [Agliotti] was. Of consequence is what the intention of the receiver [Selebi] was."

Agliotti testified that he paid Selebi because he needed him for his business dealings. In return, he had Selebi on call to attend meetings and answer telephone calls. Selebi, according to Nel, was a highly qualified police officer who knew what he was doing was illegal.

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