Home | News    Friday 25 April 2014

South Sudan court sets free four senior politicians accused of treason

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April 25, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese court has freed four politicians accused of plotting to overthrow president Salva Kiir by military force after the government dropped treason charges.

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Former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum (L) and former deputy minister of defence Majak Deng Agot (second from left) leave a courthouse in Juba after their release on 25 April 2014 (Photo EPA/Phillip Dhil)

The court order read out a request by the ministry of justice asking it to drop the case against all four officials, explaining the decision was made “in order to promote peace and reconciliation among our people”.

The president of the special court, Judge James Alala Deng, said the court had accepted the government’s request to stay the case and release the officials in the interests of the nation.

Former security minister Oyay Deng Ajak, former secretary-general of South Sudan’s ruling party (SPLM) Pagan Amum Okiech, former defence minister Majak D’Agoot and former US envoy Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth have been in detention for the past four months after being accused of masterminding the alleged coup plot with a number of other senior officials, including former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.

“Based on the report and request by the government … the court decided to stay the process and release the officials who were on trial,” Deng announced amid celebrations.

The release comes after justice minister Paulino Wanawilla Unango announced on Thursday that the leadership had decided to drop treason charges in a move aimed at ending conflict, which erupted in mid-December last year following escalating political tensions between Kiir and Machar.

However, the government said it will maintain similar charges against Machar, former Unity State governor Taban Deng Gai and former environment minister Alfred Lado Gore, all of whom have been charged in absentia.

CELEBRATIONS IN COURT

Supporters, relatives and friends and relatives of the accused were in court to hear the decision, with the announcement greeted with jubilation.

Some of the officials were carried on the shoulders of supporters through the crowd, who described the decisions as “an honour to [the country’s] justice system”.

Speaking to journalists shortly his release, Amum, said he welcomed the government’s decision, expressing hope peace could be restored in the fractured country.

“This decision marks the beginning of a serious work and the search for peace. We will now work with all the parties and the stakeholders to bring peace to this country,” he said.

“We will make necessary contacts with the government and those in the opposition to end this senseless war that is killing our people,” added Amum, who was previously considered a powerful figure within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

“We have to return South Sudan to peace and stability as a matter of priority and we must do it now to avoid more death and endless suffering,” he said.

ALLEGATIONS UNPROVEN

Amum maintained that the group had been arrested and imprisoned without valid reasons, while lead defence lawyer Monyluak Alor said the decision vindicated his clients of any wrongdoing.

“Really what happened was legally unbelievable. There was no single legal evidence to prove the allegations,” Alor told journalists outside the court.

“They are innocent. They were witch hunted, but justice has prevailed. We accept their release because peace and reconciliation are paramount now,” he added.

In a separate statement, presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said that the decision was a significant step as rebels would no longer be able to use the release of the officials as a precondition for peace talks.

“This is a significant step because the issue of the four suspects of the coup attempt cannot be used by the party as a ploy to stay away from negotiating in good faith,” Ateny told reporters.

It will definitely bridge the gap between the parties at the negotiation table in Addis Ababa when these talk resume,” he added.

The presidential aide added the decision would now reduce international pressure on the government, as well as expedite efforts aimed at ending the conflict.

“The international community has been calling for their release and the government has been studying and evaluating the genuineness of these calls … We want to see if it can give chance for peace to come to South Sudan,” he said.

WEAK CASE

Meanwhile, veteran journalist and editor of the Juba-based Daily Monitor Alfred Taban said the government’s case had been weak.

“The release of these people is a significant step. It will encourage peaceful dialogue and promotion of reconciliation. It also means that the government does not want to be embarrassed by the ruling of the court because the government had a weak case,” said Taban, adding that prosecution witnesses had failed to establish the group had participated in the alleged coup.

Charges were also dropped against seven other senior SPLM officials, who were released into the care of neighbouring Kenya in January.

Fighting in South Sudan initially broke out in the capital, Juba, between rival members of the presidential guard.

The fighting rapidly escalated, pitting government troops loyal to Kiir against defectors and ethnic militia aligned with Machar, who was sacked last July.

The UN has threatened to impose targeted sanctions on South Sudan’s warring parties amid worsening violence and human right abuses.

(ST)

- S. Sudan drops charges against four treason suspects

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The SPLM's former secretary-general, Pagan Amum, talks to reporters (...) Former SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum waves at supporters outside court (...)
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  • 25 April 22:14, by Gabriel Ajak

    Brothers, u r the most really former S.S liberators without u peace or independent of this nation would haven’t been achieve, please think bind then to forgot the even the live of our citizen is at hand have courage and give time for the whole former liberators to rest thanks and happy to see u out.

    repondre message

    • 26 April 11:25, by Johndumo14

      Dr Riek Machar is like a wounded lion.
      His troops kill any thing comes across their way,
      mad people ,even dogs,goats and chickens.
      In the beginning,he wanted to capture Juba,but he didnot,now he turn his troops on oil fiels,which he will not control,all South sudan army will die for it no matter how many will die because this is where their salary comes from.He is just a failed leader of Nuetribe

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      • 26 April 13:51, by Bentiu son

        Johndumo14,idiot shut up your flatterer mouth son of Jeenge/slave from abuse of our democratic and populist leader Dr Riek Machar Teny.Dr Machar is only national icon which will correct the messes,chronic hatred,jealous,feudal attitudes, tribal dimensions,corruption, tribalism, nepotism, clanism created by Salva Kiir,stooge cabinet and his mentor Museveni of Uganda.Well,coming to release of

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        • 26 April 14:00, by Bentiu son

          4 detainees Pagan Amum,Oyayie Deng Ajak,Dr Majak and Lul Gatkouth,We freedom fighters welcome your final release from Juba’s brutal custody after 4 months of suffering in jails. We coolective gave more thanks to Dr Machar, Alfred Lado Gore,Mama Nyadeng Mabior,n Gen Taban Deng Gai for their tireless efforts they exerted for your release. Hence, it is upto you to take cowardice decision to remain

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          • 26 April 14:08, by Bentiu son

            neutral as your former detainees colleagues had done.Dr Machar and his colleagues in struggles plus South Sundanese within genocidal regime of Salva Kiir had done their parts. It is upto you now whether to join Salva Kiir’s genocidal government or to join your colleagues who stood with you till you are finally release frm horrible custody of Juba regime.Remember,you were calling for reformation

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            • 26 April 14:14, by Bentiu son

              within RSS government and SPLM ruling party.Therefore, abandon your courses,vision,mission and values as those money lover of JEM,SRF and SPLA-N won’t help you at all comrades.Arabs say neutrality mean acceptance,submission or avoidance.

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  • 26 April 02:30, by Jubawe

    presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny is the stupid in the earth like his government, do you think your government release them to stop freedom fighter and keep him as failed president, instead the worst is coming special Ugandan troop doesn’t want fight anymore, hahaha raining season OMG and Pagan is going to joint 7 detainees in Kenya. Kirr is finish

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    • 26 April 07:58, by barbayo

      jubawe
      you thinking Bari ,this way Lad Gore though ,why you ran when fighting erupt in juba to Uganda if you know in juba belong to bari ,it you very stp,

      repondre message

  • 26 April 02:39, by Jubawe

    Breaking News, Equatorian Defences Forces had return from Juba airport 3 times orders by Greater Equatorian Leaders disagreement with President Kirr because Ugandan troops decide to withdraw from all the defected states before raining season get worst and Kirr want replace Ugandan troops with EDF unfortunately Equatorian leaders disagree with Kirr

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    • 26 April 07:48, by barbayo

      Jub
      these Equatoria defend force are Malitias ,that equatorian are cowards ,a war of today not between dinka and nuer,its rebel and government , one day you will see Nuer and Dinka eating together as are all brothers and sisters, these are subset tribes

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  • 26 April 05:17, by Odingo

    "The rule of law will prevail"said Dr.Majak Agot.Thank you for being born a brave man unlike Pagan Amum.He see Dinka Kiir has nothing in his face.This is a guy who should be a President after Dr. Garang died.There is no peace if Kiir, Kuol and James hoth Mai are not yet dead.donot waste your time Mr. Idiot Amum.You are a coward.Your release didn’t bring back 19,000 innocent Nuer killed in cold

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    • 26 April 05:55, by Joseph Canada

      Please leave General J.H.M out of Kiir’s saga. He was trying his best to contain the Army but the Dinka made law overcame him

      repondre message

      • 26 April 06:09, by omoni jr.

        James Hoth mai, told idiot kiir several times NOT politised army, salva kiir threaten to fired james Hoth mai long time ago before "cooked coup" and followed by genocide started. Remebered when salva kiir graduated his private militias and James Hoth mai did not attend the graduation ceremony,and salva kiir became so angry like a whore bitch.

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    • 26 April 07:28, by Majongdit

      Majak de Agot has spoiled himself. I don’t think he can become a President of South Sudan anytime soon. Even against Kuol Manyang or Makuei Lueth he cannot manage to win in the area of Greater Bor. And here in Bahr el Ghazal we are following a set-up:
      1. Dr. Garang
      2. Salva Kiir
      3. Wani Igga
      4. Awet Akot/Kuol Manyang

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  • 26 April 09:38, by ngadodo

    in this case it’s to late while many people lost their lives, GOSS should do so when they were release Seven Group last time.

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  • 26 April 10:16, by Jubawe

    barbayo
    Nuer will never eat with you Dinka instead they’ll f$$k your ugly ass, million time I will repeat to you Equatorian never run to Uganda, if you got small brain let me advice you, their Are some Equatoria tribes in Uganda and S Sudan, they never ran nowhere, so stop your bothering song Equatorian ran to Uganda, you Dinka just jealous of been Equatorian.

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  • 26 April 10:26, by Jubawe

    Seriously can somebody explain to me Why all Dinka jealous of been Equatorian, every time I keep hearing from them(Dinka) you Equatorian are so wise, educated and doesn’t loot people properties, Dinka should ask God in Heaven, why he created Dinka with small brain and always wrongdoing, never understand on time until time goes to 12:00 PM, my Dinka people don’t be Jealous of been Equatorian.

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    • 26 April 11:47, by barbayo

      Jubawe
      believes me 100% Nuer and Dinka will eat together,issue of Equatorians are cowards , they ran to Uganda and Kenya ,you where are you now ? but me ,you know me what am.but you drinking beers , running after street ladies, this is where i know you,

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    • 26 April 13:54, by Kenyang

      Jubawe,
      Do yourself favor and keep your inferiority to yourself. You don’t have a valid reason to attack an entire tribe.

      repondre message

  • 26 April 12:41, by Jubawe

    barbayo
    Yes we Equatorian drink beers before you Dinka seeing City, unless you Dinka to Juba and see new live otherwise you will running after cattle in bush, I believe you seen your Dinka’s ministers fallen in beers and street ladies with everything forgot their families, our Equatorian people drink beers after work since Dr Garand when to bush but because Dinka new in beers lives, they fallen

    repondre message

  • 26 April 13:29, by Kenyang

    This is a welcome news! It’s never too late to do something right.

    repondre message

    • 26 April 20:40, by Joseph Canada

      JUBAWE, TELL THEM THAT RIGHT NOW IN UPPER NILE, EQUATORIANS MURLE AND NUN DINKA ARE THE ONES WHO ARE FIGHTING IN THEIR LAND WHILE DINKA ARE TACKING THEIR TAILS IN NIMULE IN THE NAME OF IDPS. SOON THEY WILL KNOW.

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  • 26 April 20:40, by barbayo

    Jubawe
    which city are talking about ,you never moved round to South Sudan at all, you done know city , just kondokora is city ? my friend let me tell you the fact,now now you done have house in Juba, what so far i know those quatorains uncivilized they like use small hut and that is all drink beers ladies ,you let others to talks not you , everybody know.

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