Home | News    Friday 14 March 2014

S. Sudanese activist demands fair trial for alleged ‘coup’ plotters

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March 13, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese activist on Thursday demanded that a “fair trial” be granted to the four political officials accused by the government of allegedly attempting to forcefully remove president Salva Kiir and his leadership from power.

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South Sudan political detainees (left to right) Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, Majak d’Agoot, Pagan Amum and Oyai Deng Ajak at a trial hearing in Juba on 11 March 2014 (Photo: AFP/Andrei Pungovschi)

“We commend the government for formally informing the accused of what crimes they have committed. Now that they know what they have been accused of, we hope they would also be accorded an opportunity to defend themselves,” Sebit Anthony, a civil society activist, told Sudan Tribune.

The charges against the four senior officials from the country’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) include treason, incitement of the masses, causing disaffection among police or defence forces, defaming the government of South Sudan and undermining the authority of or insulting the president.

“We are at this junction asking for fair trial for each of the accused, so that credibility and the independence of our judiciary and court system are not compromised,” he added.

The activist, who expressed scepticism about the independence of the country’s judicial system, has raised questions over whether the accused officials would be fairly tried.

“Some of the our citizens are already calling them [a] kangaroo court, which is already an indication of [the] lack of trust in [the] judicial and court system,” said Sebit, who also praised the decision to allow the public and media to attend the hearings.

“We would like the spirit which I saw at the [opening of the] hearing sessions to continue. The court was opened to the members of the public, including the media. There were no restrictions which I observed at the hearing,” he said.

The activist, however, urged defence lawyers to adequately prepare their response to the charges now that their clients have been informed of their alleged crimes.

“It was difficult in the past to talk about this case because it was not clear what crimes have the accused committed because they were not informed,” he told Sudan Tribune.

Evidence purportedly seized at the residences of some of the accused include a new flag which the government claimed was to be used had the alleged coup succeeded, although the existence of such a plot continues to be disputed.

Recorded audio conversations, which allegedly took place between some of the accused, were produced as evidence before the court.

The government has also claimed that a press release issued by the SPLM officials and their participation, along with other of senior members of the ruling party, at a briefing held on 6 December last year was further proof of a plot to overthrow the regime through military action.

“I see the window of success in this case for the accused. This case can easily be lost by the government because there are no strong charges and evidences showing activities indicative of an attempt to remove the government from power by military action. You know that none of the accused at the time of their arrest was found in military uniform or possessing weapons,” a South Sudanese lawyer told Sudan Tribune in a separate interview, adding that telephone recordings were obtained illegally and should not be used in court as evidence.

“Telephone recording is itself [an] unconstitutional practice. It is only used by the security for informing relevant authority so that further investigation is carried out to substantiate the allegation, but it cannot be used as an evidence in the court whatsoever the case,” he added.

The lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said most of the charges were largely drawn from the press release issued by SPLM officials, including former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar, who will be tried on the same charges in absentia.

Monyluak Alor Kuol, the lead defence lawyer, told journalists on Wednesday that his team was now examining the prosecution witness accounts one by one before reacting to the charges.

“It is now clear what charges have been brought against our clients and we are now looking forward to see prosecution witnesses one by one,” said Kuol.

“There are about 13 of them. We shall develop defence witnesses depending on how the prosecution presents this case. So we are developing it,” he added, further disclosing that a team of international lawyers were set to join the defence team once accredited by authorities.

However, it remains unclear whether the government will grant accreditation to the international lawyers who have expressed a willingness to defend those accused.

(ST)

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  • 14 March 07:35, by Ajongtar

    These Juba 4 are not Coupt ploter, they are SPLM Rebals, and are supose to taken to SPLM court of low.
    Chapions of SPLM.

    repondre message

    • 14 March 08:14, by Mi diit

      Those hearings in that kangaroo court are a joke! There is no independent judicial system in South Sudan. Kiir will demand maximum punishment to be carried out by the judge. The defense lawyers will get intimidated and give up. Such poor evidences against the accused are an insult to the judicial system world-wide.

      repondre message

      • 14 March 10:16, by Monydit

        Iknow this Rebel Call Mi-Diit will died like that ,because Mi-Diit had nothing to do just 24-7 Hours on internet ,but this fighting will not helping him in USA OR Canda where he is using his Green-Card to Eat and Drink ,sorry Mi-Diit this 4Guys had face Court seriously because they are coz of all this am sorry but Riekbaai Machar will be came like 1991 ,this is not first tyme for Riek Machar to do

        repondre message

    • 14 March 09:15, by omoni jr.

      They need to hire Mark O’mara, the lawyer of George Zimmamen,he defended him when he killed the black teen for nothing,just because he was black. And zimmerman get away with it.

      repondre message

    • 14 March 09:16, by omoni jr.

      They need to hire Mark O’mara, the lawyer of George Zimmamen,he defended him when he killed the black teen for nothing,just because he was black. And zimmerman get away with it.

      repondre message

    • 14 March 10:08, by Ayuen deng

      They should be release after they plead guilty and they have learn from their mistake.But Riek should pay his life for misleading Nuer people to choose suffering and killing of south Sudanese people in Jonglei and upper Nile.

      repondre message

  • 14 March 08:41, by chuol

    @ Mi dit you’re right, there is no judical system set up in south Sudan with independent judgement. This make us to fear much and defense loyal will be threated by Kiir regime but, I’m sure God is the defense loyal to Gen: pagan, Oye Deng, Ezakiel lul and Dr Majak since they’re innocent with no coup attempted in heart...

    repondre message

  • 14 March 09:33, by tootke’bai-ngo

    ISN’T THE SAME COURT WHICH THROW AWAY PAGAN AMUM’S GRIEVANCES AGAINST KIIR FOR VIOLATING THE CONSTITUTION LAST YEAR? THE COURT SAID SPLM MEMBERS SHOULD EXHAUSTED ALL AVENUES WITHIN THE PARTY VENUE. NOW THE SAME COURT IS WILLING NOT ONLY TO COMPROMISING ITS’ INTERGRITY BUT ALSO TAKING ORDERS DIRECTLY OUTSIDE IT JURIDICTION FROM THE PRESIDENT KIIR. IN SHORT KIIR WANT THEM DEAD,GUILTY OR NOT, PERIOD.

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