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Former South African police chief sentenced to 15 years

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Disgraced police chief sentenced
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jackie Selebi, the country's former national police chief, sentenced to 15 years' jail
  • He didn't try to hide his friendship with a convicted drug trafficker
  • The trial lasted 4 1/2 years
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Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- South Africa's former national police chief, Jackie Selebi, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison after he was found guilty of corruption charges last month.

"You are an embarrassment to the police force ... you are an embarrassment to the country," Judge Meyer Joffe said after the sentence was handed down.

"I am satisfied that a sentence of 15 years imprisonment is appropriate in the matter," the judge added, according to the South African Press Association.

The charges stemmed from Selebi's relationship with convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti -- a friendship that was no secret. Once asked about it at a news conference, Selebi famously said, "He's my friend. Finished and klaar" -- an Afrikaans term meaning "that's the end of it."

After a four-and-a-half-year trial, the court found Selebi gave favors to Agliotti in exchange for money and expensive clothes. Joffe rejected Selebi's defense that there had been a conspiracy against him, although he acquitted the former police chief on a charge of defeating the ends of justice, according to SAPA.

SAPA reported that Agliotti, who was appearing in a nearby courtroom on murder charges, had no comment on Selebi's sentencing.

Selebi's attorney asked the judge to release his client on bail while he prepares an appeal in the case.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress party said the verdict last month clearly indicated "that South Africa as a country is governed by laws that are applied without any fear or favor to anyone, regardless of their standing."

Selebi was until recently one of the most powerful political figures in South Africa. He served as president of Interpol from 2004 to 2008 and was a close ally of former South African President Thabo Mbeki.