That Elusive “Get Out Of Jail Free” Card

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Jackie Selebi. / REUTERS
Will South Africa’s former top cop, now convicted for corruption, show up to do his time?

Jackie Selebi, a one-time anti-apartheid hero, former parliamentarian and ex-commissioner of the national police, was convicted of corruption, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. On Friday, Selebi lost his last ditch attempt to avoid serving time, when the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected Selebi’s case, and gave him 48 hours to start serving his sentence.  Or perhaps not last ditch: Upon hearing the news, the 61-year-old collapsed at his home, and was taken to a hospital, where he may have suffered a stroke.

Now, the big question on the minds of South Africans is whether he will show up to do his time come Monday. The deadline for his appearance was Sunday morning, and his lawyers were reportedly heading back to court to seek an extension on medical grounds.

Selebi was convicted last year of taking about $20,000 in cash and gifts from a drug trafficker while he was national police commissioner, in exchange for special favors between 2000 and 2008.

There is also widespread outrage over a deal Selebi cut after his arrest, obliging the government to pay for his legal fees. Under the agreement, Selebi would only have to repay the money if convicted. With appeals, that legal bill now comes to $17.4 million rand, or $2.3 million. (The Justice Department promises to collect.)

Even so, the prosecution of such a once-powerful figure is hailed by some in South Africa as a positive sign for the fledging democracy. Others see it as a sad statement of pervasive corruption.

Sweep to Selebi prison reprieve

Croatians are going to the polls in an election for the country’s next premier, and corruption is one of the big issues among voters.  Exit polls showed that the Alliance for Change, which is a multi-party group, lead with 42 percent of the vote compared to 23 percent for the nearest rival.

This would mean that Zoran Milanovic, a Social Democratic leader, would most likely become the country’s next premier, replacing Jadranka Kosor. Milanovic has pledge to root out corruption and that appears to have appealed to voters, who have linked corruption with a weak economy.

For over two years, Croatia has struggled even more than other Balkan countries to pull out of recession that led to a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating and widespread unhappiness among voters.

Dozens of Croatian officials, including former Premier Ivo Sanader, have been arrested in a range of corruption-related scandals dating back to 2009.  The current premier Kosor came in after Sanader was ousted, also pledging to crack down on corruption. Yet that campaign promise does not look like it will keep her in office.

With so many Croatian politicians running on anti-corruption platforms, let’s see if these words can be turned into deeds after election day.

Sweep to Croats vote fixed on economic recovery, corruption fight

FIFA President Seep Blatter in May. / REUTERS
Transparency International made a big splash last week by issuing its annual ranking of countries by levels of corruption.  Less well known was known was another action involving the global anti-corruption watchdog: It cut its ties with FIFA, the soccer governing body, out of frustration.

This means that Transparency International will not participate in efforts to investigate and clean up the widespread corruption that has long plagued FIFA. This involves allegations of payments to players and officials to tilt the outcome of soccer matches, as well as questions over the bidding process for countries seeking to host World Cup games.

The split came over FIFA’s refusal to re-examine past scandals, and its insistence that investigators looking into alleged FIFA wrongdoing work under a FIFA contract and receive payment from the soccer federation.

Sylvia Schenk,  sports advisor for Transparency International, told Associated Press that she was “astonished” by FIFA’s attitude.  The global non-profit had told FIFA that it needed independent probes to restore credibility.

In Transparency International’s annual list of the most corrupt nations on earth, one wonders where FIFA – if it were a nation – would rank. Perhaps somewhere between Afghanistan and Italy?

Sweep to Anti-corruption watchdog cuts ties to FIFA

 

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo

Diana Jean Schemo is co-founding executive editor of 100Reporters and an award-winning former foreign, national and cultural correspondent for The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.
Diana Jean Schemo

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