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Former Interpol president jailed

The former head of South Africa's police has been jailed for 15 years for corruption, but was then immediately given bail to appeal.

Jackie Selebi, 60, was convicted last month after evidence which included him going on designer shopping sprees with a drug smuggler.

The case against Selebi, a former president of Interpol, has been the centrepiece of a national debate over whether corruption and political meddling is undermining the fight against crime.

Sentencing him, Judge Meyer Joffe called him "an embarrassment to all right-thinking citizens in this country."

The judge cited a past speech by Selebi on law enforcement in which he said that police would stop corruption "so we can fight crime with clean hands."

"It is inconceivable that in a court the chief of police would be found to be an unreliable witness," Judge Joffe said, adding that Selebi was "a stranger to the truth."

During sentencing broadcast live on nationwide television, Selebi showed no emotion. The court freed him on bail to lodge an appeal.

Selebi, once an important official in the governing African National Congress party, had pleaded not guilty. He claimed evidence was fabricated for the charge he accepted money and gifts in exchange for meeting a drug smuggler's business associates and tipping him off to investigations.

Selebi argued he was targeted by enemies who wanted to punish him for his criticism of an elite crime-fighting unit. The unit was disbanded in 2008 after it tried to prosecute Jacob Zuma on corruption charges before he went on to become South Africa's president.

The judge, in delivering the verdict last month, said Selebi's conspiracy theory had no basis.

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