SAfrican crime-busting team to become independent

AP News
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Posted: Mar 17, 2011 7:32 AM

South Africa's highest court says a 2008 move to bring an elite crime-busting team under police supervision was unconstitutional.

Justices Edwin Cameron and Dikgang Moseneke said in Thursday's decision that the anti-corruption team, the Scorpions, is "insufficiently insulated from political influence" as it effectively reports to police.

South Africa's government passed highly contested legislation in Oct. 2008 that disbanded the Scorpions after they probed now-President Jacob Zuma on a massive arms deal scandal. The group had a 94 percent conviction rate on 182 cases in 2007, a record better than the police.

The Constitutional Court decision gives the government 18 months to ensure the country's anti-corruption team is an independent body.