December 18, 2012 (WAU) - A local youth leader from South Sudan’s Twic County in Warrap State has been cleared of sabotage by county authorities in November, youth groups and relative told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
- Warrap State in red. Contested Abyei region in pink.
Atem Ayuel Atem was arrested on 1 November 2012, at a public meeting in Wunrok, allegedly for mobilising community leaders to object to doubling taxes. He was also accused of causing "chaos" and turning the community against county authorities. Other charges included being mentally ill, causing a disturbance and mobilising the community against government policies and administrative directives.
Wunrok Payam [district] Administrator, Majok Deng Aguer, additionally filed charges alleging the youth leader had mobilised a group of young people to forcefully close down his office on 14 February 2012.
The case was filed and put before a court in Turalei, an administrative headquarters of Twic County, Warrap. On 14 December 2012, Turalei judge, Dijo Stephen Abraham dismissed all the charges and explained that the youth leader was exercising his constitutional right to express his opinion on matters relating to public affairs.
After he was found innocent, Atem Ayuel Atem said they closed the office of the Payam’s administrative office in response to Majok Deng Aguer’s order dissolving the executive council of the local youth body. The Atem’s youth group had demanded to know what 60% of local taxes were being spent on.
According to multiple sources, February Aguer attempted to justified his decision to close the youth group, as the purpose of the youth association was "simply to see how they would organise themselves and not how to monitor performance of the administration" not enter into politics".
The group should not have asked about how taxes were collected and spent in the area, Aguer said in February, according to local traditional leaders and legislators.
Sudan Tribune was not able to reach Aguer despite several attempts on Friday to get his reaction to the verdict that cleared the youth leader of all charges.
“I have been cleared of allegations and concocted charges by Wunrok Payam Administrator, Majok Deng Aguer. A court presided by Judge Dijo Stephen Abraham, on 13 December 2012, dismissed all the charges. It did not find any evidence", Atem told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
He said allegations against him by the Payam administrator, according to the judge included: closing his office in February, opposing the doubling of taxes, being insane, causing chaos at a public meeting, mobilising the community against an administrative directive to raise local taxes and adherence to instructions.
Atem praised the judge for showing independence in the case.
"I have reasons to go to court because I was arrested without warrant. He opened the case after arresting me for eight days. This is unconstitutional. It is an abuse of power and constitution. He has tarnished my image by claiming that I am a mad. Who will accept that I am not mad? This is now known by the whole world because has now become a small village", asked Atem.