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Corrupt cop escapes jail

by Lesotho Times

MASERU — A former police superintendent escaped jail yesterday after he was slapped with a suspended term for soliciting a M1 000 bribe.
Keletso Ramoeletsi, 56, was arrested and charged with soliciting a bribe from one Mats’eliso Sets’abi in 2006 following a police trap.
Sets’abi was wanted by the police in connection with the theft of cell phones.
She however struck a deal with Ramoeletsi to allow her to get back her confiscated phones.
Sets’abi, the court heard, decided to tell the police about the plan leading to Ramoeletsi’s arrest.
Sets’abi is still facing theft charges at the courts.
Maseru magistrate Napo Mohale yesterday sentenced Ramoeletsi to two years in jail.
The sentence was however suspended for three years on condition he did not commit a similar crime.
Delivering judgment, Mohale said bribery is “a form of corruption which is a menace to the well being of society”.
He said the courts had a duty to strike a balance between the interests of society and the accused.
“He is a first offender but there is no rule that the judgment should be in his favour.
“The court should look at the nature of the offence, protection from society and the prevalence of the crime when sentencing the accused,” Mohale said.
The magistrate said the accused had been placed in a position of trust but had betrayed that trust.
Defence lawyer, Advocate Rasekoai, pleaded with the court to give his client a lenient sentence.
He said his client had faithfully served in the police service for three decades and was a family man.
“He has five children and a wife who all depend on him for support. He has served in law enforcement for three decades faithfully,” he said.
Rasekoai said while corruption was a heinous crime, a custodial sentence under the circumstances was not appropriate.
“A custodial sentence in this circumstance cannot suffice,” Rasekoai said.
However, crown counsel Robert Griffiths (SC) urged the court to impose a custodial jail term saying there had been a rise in cases of corruption in Lesotho.
He said there is no rule which says a first offender cannot be given a prison sentence.
“It (corruption) is a serious offence and it will give wrong signals to the society if he is not sentenced.
“The accused was a senior police officer and abused his power in office.
“The accused planned (the crime) over a period of time and discussed it in December 26 2006,” he said.
Griffiths also said the accused had not shown any remorse.
“I would suggest a minimum of five years in prison for the accused,” he said.

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