March 4, 2017 (NAIROBI) - Relatives of four Kenyan citizens sentenced to life imprisonment for alleged involvement in corruption at South Sudan’s presidency have appealed to the Kenyan leader, Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and secure their release from prison.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (L) and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta (Photo: AP/Ali Ngethi)
In petitions published in Kenya’s Daily Nation and The Standard newspapers on 13 March, 2017, the relatives said the four Kenyans were “unfairly” tried and “wrongfully” sentenced, without following due process of the law.
The four Kenyan citizens were employees of Click Technologies Ltd, a local retail company that used to supply electronic equipment and stationery to the office of the South Sudanese president.
“Boniface Chuma Muriuki, Ravi Ghaghda, Anthony Keya and Anthony Mwadime who were working in South Sudan were arbitrarily arrested on 29th May 2015, unfairly tried and wrongfully sentenced”, partly reads the petition.
The petitioners strongly criticized the manner in which the processes that led to the arrest, conviction and eventual sentencing of the four Kenyans were handled by the South Sudanese government.
“These charges, Mr. President [Kenyatta] were falsified against them. The information available reveals that the process that led to their arrest, detention, trial and eventual sentencing fell short of major internationally accepted principles and standards of fair hearings in (any) material way”, argued the petitioners.
The Kenyan government, the petitioners said, acknowledged the innocence of the four through a 4 July, 2016 correspondence between the leader of the majority in Kenyan parliament, Adan Duale and Kenya’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amina Mohammed.
“The Government (of Kenya) strongly condemns this unjustified sentence impose on the four Kenyans and consequently, the Ministry has protested through a Note Verbale to the Government of South Sudan through their Mission here in Kenya. In this regard, I have summoned the South Sudan Ambassador in Nairobi to convey to his government our strong condemnation of this unbelievable and absolutely ridiculous judgment,” the petition, which the Kenyan foreign affairs minister wrote in response to lawmakers’ queries, read.
It added, “These Kenyans have been condemned yet there was no evidence at all adduced in court linking them to the alleged crime”.
The distraught relatives said that they have contacted all relevant authorities both in Kenya and South Sudan to have the four Kenyans released as well as update on their well-being but so far nothing has materialized as many of their requests for meetings and correspondences with these relevant authorities have not been answered or acknowledged. They are now appealing directly to the Kenyan president to intervene and secure the release of the four jailed Kenyans so that they are re-united with their families in Kenya.
“Your Excellency, we, the families of four Kenyan victims of unjustified imprisonment have suffered great agony over the ill fate of our loved ones. We worry about their welfare owing to the circumstances surrounding their arrest and eventual imprisonment. We have indeed exhausted all other avenues to State recourse to no avail,” further reads the petition.
“Our sincere and desperate cry to you Mr. President is to protect the lives of our sons, brothers, husbands and fathers from the wrongful and unfair imprisonment in South Sudan which is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights”, it adds.
The petitioners appealed to Kenyatta to ensure the four Kenyans are released.
“We thank you for taking the time to consider our kind appeal to you, Your Excellency and trust in the goodwill of your office to bring our sons back home from South Sudan”, stated the petition.
Click Technologies Ltd. is owned by John Agou who is also serving life imprisonment together with his wife Susan Anyieth Chaat Paul, eight senior staff in the Office of the President, one staff of the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank of South Sudan.
The 16 people were arrested by the General Intelligence Bureau (GIB) on different dates starting on 29 May, 2015 and detained for more than a year at GIB. They were accused of fraud, money laundering, misappropriation of public funds, among others.
A Kenyan-based human rights activist told Sudan Tribune that the families of the four detained Kenyans were expecting South Sudan President Salva Kiir to release their relatives together with other prisoners during the national day of prayers, held on 10 March in the spirit of forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and national dialogue.
Sudan Tribune reliably learned that the four Kenyans and their co-accused South Sudanese were being considered for presidential pardon ahead of the national dialogue initiative preceded by Friday’s national day of prayer as pressure mounts on Kiir from their relatives, community leaders and politicians who urged him to forgive his former aides and the Kenyans serving life imprisonment at Juba Central prison.