President of Interpol Steps Down

LYON, France -- The president of Interpol, Jackie Selebi, mired in a corruption scandal in his native South Africa, has resigned "out of respect" for the international police organization, an Interpol statement said Sunday.

Selebi, the national police commissioner in South Africa, said in his letter of resignation that he did not want the allegations against him to sully the reputation of Interpol.

Interpol Secretary-General Ronald Noble, the top official at the Lyon-based agency, praised Selebi's professionalism, saying in a statement that the South African "has always conducted himself and acted in a way to enhance global security and police cooperation worldwide."

The corruption claims are linked to Selebi's "generally corrupt relationship" with Glen Agliotti, a convicted drug trafficker, South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority said Friday.

President Thabo Mbeki has stood by Selebi. In his letter of resignation, Selebi said Mbeki has granted his request for an leave of absence from his job as national commissioner "so that I can devote my energies to clearing my name."

South African prosecutors announced plans Friday to charge Selebi, after police arrested a top prosecutor who led the Selebi investigation.