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Article by: Sapa
Published: 14 Oct 2009
|Selebi ‘would have been astonished’ — lawyer|
|Former police chief Jackie Selebi would have been "astonished" to be offered improper payments by drug lord Glenn Agliotti, the High Court in Johannesburg heard on Wednesday.
The claim, by defence lawyer Jaap Cilliers, came as his cross-examination of Agliotti continued in Selebi's corruption trial.
"If you bring money to the accused he would have reacted in a way that he was astonished by your conduct, and would take exception to your conduct and may have had you arrested," Cilliers said.
"You knew that," he added.
Cilliers was questioning Agliotti on why, after he had made a deal with the Scorpions, he did not set up a "controlled payment" or "conversation" with Selebi to provide independent evidence of Selebi's alleged corruption.
"I was not going to compromise him," said Agliotti, dressed in a salmon pink tie, white shirt and black suit.
He and Selebi used to be friends.
Cilliers said Selebi also denied ever taking R30 000 from Agliotti to host a dinner to garner votes for election as Interpol head.
"The accused absolutely refused to have such a dinner and said he would rather not be elected than to have a dinner.
"He refused to lobby in any way," Cilliers told the court.
Agliotti has testified that in late 2004 he gave Selebi the cash to fund a dinner in Paris to "lobby" for election as head of the international police body.
Selebi served as Interpol president from 2004 until January 12 last year, resigning after being suspended over the graft allegations for which he is on trial.
Agliotti on Wednesday also gave the court an additional explanation for inconsistencies in his testimony and earlier statement to police.
Previously he had admitted that he lied on occasion. On Wednesday he said his memory also sometimes failed him.
"You take your mind back and you try and remember as much as you can," explained Agliotti.
"There have been inconsistencies in my statement. They are not intentional."
Cilliers pointed out there was a discrepancy between two statements Agliotti made in January 2008, one to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the other to the Scorpions.
In the NIA statement, Agliotti said: "I maintained all along that I never bribed Selebi," whereas in the later one to the Scorpions, he said: "I have never maintained that I never bribed Selebi."
Agliotti said the change came after his legal counsel explained the legal definition of bribery.
Cilliers put it to him that this explanation was a lie and that the later statement was a "concocted version".
"As you sit there right there in court you look the honourable court in the eye and you still lie... You must be careful... Mr Agliotti. There is a man's life dependent on the truthfulness of the witness."
Agliotti has made a deal with the State in the Selebi case and will receive indemnity from prosecution on charges including corruption, money laundering, racketeering and defeating the ends of justice if he testifies "frankly and honestly".
He made it clear on Wednesday that his memory could not be jogged to remember exactly how many payments he made to Selebi or what the amount of each payment was.
"How many payments for R30 000 or R5 000 or R10 000 [I made to Selebi]. I cannot remember every payment... I did not keep a running log," he said.
On Thursday the court's attention will turn to determining the admissibility of a 2008 video recording of a meeting between Agliotti and NIA representatives.
Cilliers has asked that the video be admitted as evidence even though Agliotti testified that he was assured the recording was off the record.
The recording is apparently of Agliotti, police commissioner Mulangi Mphego and senior NIA official Arthur Fraser discussing the investigation into Selebi.
"To my knowledge the information would not be used," Agliotti said during cross-examination.
Judge Meyer Joffe said he would hear full argument before deciding whether the recording could be viewed as evidence or if a trial within a trial should be held to determine admissibility.
Selebi is facing two counts of corruption and defeating the ends of justice, related to payments of at least R1,2-million he allegedly received from Agliotti, slain mining magnate Brett Kebble and former Hyundai boss Billy Rautenbach.