S. Sudan drops charges against four treason suspects
April 24,2014 (JUBA/ADDIS ABABA) – The government of South Sudanese on Thursday declared it was dropping treason charges against the four senior politicians detained in connection with an alleged coup attempt in mid-December last year.
- Former army chief-of-staff Oyay Deng Ajak(far left), with co-accused Pagan Amum Okiech, Majok D’Agot Atem and Ezekiel Lol Gatk listen in court during their trial for treason (Photo: Charlton Doki/VOA)
Justice minister, Paulino Wanawilla Unango said government took the surprise decision against its four detained officials for “the sake of peace and reconciliation”.
“The case was being terminated for the sake of peace. It is not that was no evidence”, Unango told reporters in the capital, Juba.
The minister, quoting 25 of Criminal Act, said the move to halt the prosecution of the four officials was a directive from the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.
The four officials include, former security minister, Oyay Deng Ajak, ex-secretary general of South Sudan’s ruling party, Pagan Amum Okiech, former defense minister, Majak D’Agoot and its former envoy to United States Ezekiel Lol Gatkouth.
The special court was expected to make a preliminary ruling on the case on Wednesday to determine whether the accused have a case to answer or not.
Seven of those accused of attempting a coup in the country were in late January released on bail and sent to neighbouring Kenya for safety.
Meanwhile, the final cancellation of the prosecution case is expected on Friday after the final court session, at the end of which the political detainees, some of whom have expressed readiness to work with President Salva Kiir, would be set free.
REBELS WELCOME RELEASE
Meanwhile the rebel SPLM in opposition has welcomed the release of the 4 remaining SPLM political detainees who are released after being jailed for nearly four months.
The political detainees had been in Juba prison in connection with what president Kiir alleges was a coup attempt staged by his former deputy and current rebel leader, Riek Machar, an allegation the latter denies.
The move by Juba government comes two days after IGAD, the regional bloc mediating the two warring SPLM factions, decided to adjourn new round of peace talks initially scheduled to resume on 23 April to Sunday 27th April.
In statement to Sudan Tribune from Addis Ababa , a rebel negotiator Puot Kang Chol urged Kiir to immediately allow the released join their fellow comrades, the seven former detainees freed following Addis Ababa peace agreement signed on 23 January.
Chol said they must immediately be allowed to leave South Sudan so that they could play their role in the ongoing IGAD led peace process in Addis Ababa.
Now all the 11 political detains all being freed it remains to be seen on whether the former detainees would join the rebels, the government or would prefer to remain as third bloc.
IGAD has already suspended the participation of the former detainees at the peace process for unspecified reason.
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