Tempers flare in trial

JUDGE Meyer Joffe will say today whether he will recuse himself or not from the corruption trial of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

JUDGE Meyer Joffe will say today whether he will recuse himself or not from the corruption trial of former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi.

Selebi, pictured, has accused the Johannesburg high court judge of being biased and wants him to step down from hearing his case. He said yesterday that the judge was letting the prosecution get away with discrepancies.

The court heard arguments from both sides with tempers flaring and accusations flying from both sides.

Joffe, when accused of bias for not intervening when the state refused to hand over documents to the defence, snapped.

"How can you take me to task for not intervening when the State did not give you documents. If you felt hard done by someone, with your experience, would have confronted me and said they were hard done by.

"No indication of dissatisfaction was given to me on your part," said the visibly upset Joffe.

When asked why he had not objected to State prosecutor Gerrie Nel's conduct during court proceedings, Selebi's counsel, Jaap Cilliers, said: "We did not want to take away your duty as custodian of the Constitution".

Opposing the application, the State referred to the recusal application as null and void, with Nel claiming that it was aimed more at him than the judge.

"I read the papers and thought that there was more about the prosecutor. All I read was 'Nel made this mistake, Nel lied, Nel refused to do this'."

In his affidavit Selebi said he had the impression that Joffe had already decided he was guilty of the charges against him.

If Joffe recuses himself, the trial will have to start afresh - when a new judge has been appointed.

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