Home | News    Friday 25 April 2014

S. Sudan drops charges against four treason suspects


April 24, 2014 (JUBA/ADDIS ABABA) – The South Sudanese government said on Thursday it was dropping treason charges against the four senior politicians detained in connection with an alleged coup attempt in mid-December last year.

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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 the government took the surprise decision against the four detained officials for “the sake of peace and reconciliation”.

“The case was being terminated for the sake of peace. It is not that there was no evidence,” Unango told reporters in the capital, Juba.

Quoting 25 of the Criminal Act, the minister said the move to halt the prosecution of the four officials was a directive from president Salva Kiir.

The four officials include 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 its former US envoy 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.

In January, seven co-accused officials were released on bail and sent to neighbouring Kenya for safety.

The cancellation of the prosecution case is expected to be finalised on Friday after the final court session, at the end of which the political detainees, some of whom have expressed a readiness to work with Kiir, will be set free.


Meanwhile, the SPLM-in-Opposition welcomed Juba’s decision to drop the charges against the four detainees, who have been in detention for nearly four months.

The four senor SLM officials were arrested after being accused of plotting a coup attempt with former vice-president turned rebel leader Riek Machar. All of those accused have denied the allegations.

The move by the Juba government comes two days after the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the regional bloc mediating peace talks between the two warring factions, decided to adjourn a new round of negotiations, initially scheduled to resume on 23 April, until 27 April.

In statement to Sudan Tribune from Addis Ababa, rebel negotiator Puot Kang Chol urged president Kiir to immediately allow the four officials to join their fellow colleagues, who were released after a peace agreement signed on 23 January.

Chol called on the government to allow the four officials to leave South Sudan so that they could play a role in the ongoing IGAD-led peace process.

With all the 11 political detainees seemingly freed, it remains to be seen whether they will join the rebel movement, the government or remain as a separate third bloc.

IGAD has already suspended the participation of the seven former detainees in the ongoing Addis Ababa peace process. The decision followed calls from the South Sudanese government to restrict talks to the parties directly involved in the conflict.


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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.
  • 25 April 2014 05:07, by Wicdail

    Kirr have got no other choice rather than to drop and release those innocent guys. The second step is for him to step-down so that peace prevails.

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    • 25 April 2014 06:21, by Tibs

      Thief’s Pagan. Have credit to be forgive as he stated in a court hearing, I’ll works with President Kirr, Vice president Wani & South Sudan people to ended this Riak senseless war! SG Pagan have no link to the coup, but personal problems with President. We all love each other and United against enemy of peace in SOUTH SUDAN. There was a couple plotted by Dr. Cieth Risky, Taban & Lado

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      • 25 April 2014 07:55, by Fundamental Change icon

        The mispresentation of the case by gov’t in court of law clearly exposed Kiir’s conspiracy of trying to get rid of opponents in a propagated ’coup detat’ however after realizing that they were going to lose the case against the four which would depopularize him, he was forced to drop the case under the disquise of ’public interest n dioloque’.

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    • 25 April 2014 08:05, by Bentiu son

      dear South Sudanese at home and in diaspora,What a madness of Salva Kiir brutal regime? Juba genocidal regime had concocted ’Failed Attempt Coup’ rather ’Assassination Attempt’ against Dr Machar and his others senior SPLM colleagues.Well,no evidence found which mean No Failed Coup Attempt was carried out in first place.Why thousands of South Sudanese people died? Madness, hatred,tribal motivated r

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      • 25 April 2014 08:15, by Bentiu son

        ight? Well,now the 4 detainees maybe release today or tomorrow,it will be upto them either to remain neutral as their others 7 detainees did.We entire South Sudanese hereby give more appreciations to Freedom Fighters under Dr Machar for their tireless efforts to release their colleagues from Juba brutal regime’s custody for 4 months.SPLA/M in Opposition had done their parts remains ur parts.

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    • 25 April 2014 09:39, by Adodi Jotuwa

      Gen. James Hoth Mai is one of the patriotic South Sudanese who never ever betrayed South Sudanese in action and spirit by shifting allegiance here and there. He has never been today in the bush and tomorrow in Khartoum as was/is the case with Dr. Fool Riek Machar looking for a leadership to be given in a golden plate.

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      • 25 April 2014 09:40, by Adodi Jotuwa

        The word/diction "sacked" is essentially used by the media outlets to appeal to supporters/forces of Dr. Fool Riek Machar to continue massacring people/non-Nuer on tribal basis. Will application of that word ‘sacked’ help install Dr. Fool Riek Machar in the Presidential seat? No. Why would the West start blaming Dr. Fool forces for repeated massacre in Bentiu but not in Bor, Malakal and Akobo?

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        • 25 April 2014 09:42, by Adodi Jotuwa

          The people killed repeatedly in Bor, Akobo and Malakal are not all Dinka from Bahr El-Ghazal as supporters of Dr. Fool Riek Machar claims; they are South Sudanese who hail from different ethnic groups in South Sudan. Dr. Fool Riek cannot twist the truth by claiming that he can kill all Dinka Bahr El-Ghazal excluding other tribes as alleged ‘revenge killing’ to assume power.

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          • 25 April 2014 09:43, by Adodi Jotuwa

            If Gen. James Hoth Mai is to be compared with Dr. Fool Riek Machar Teny to rule South Sudan, I believe South Sudanese would vote 100% for Gen. James but NOT Riek and his likes whose survival is based solely on constant shift of allegiance, betrayal and many more. Every supporter of Dr. Fool Riek Machar must put that in his/her mind.

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        • 25 April 2014 15:26, by Reuben

          adodi Jotuwa
          Mind you Dr Riek is not a fool. He sees for South Sudan what you do not see.He is a man who walks the talks unlike others who just talk which results to nothing. Person like Dr Riek is rare, special from Educated South Sudanese.

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  • 25 April 2014 05:10, by Lotodo Awino Odug

    These guys deserve pardon for their hard works during and after the attainment of our independence. this government should know that the little guys are of no importance to them, so asylum will remain the best choice for the poor, since living with you mean deaths.

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    • 25 April 2014 06:21, by Mr Point

      Well now we know that there is no evidence because there never was an attempted coup.
      The fake coup was dreamed up by Kiir to justify an assassination attempt on Machar and put Pagan Amum away.
      Like everything Kiir has done lately, he bungled it.
      Because of Kiir’s dream and his bungling millions of South Sudanese are now suffering.

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  • 25 April 2014 06:47, by Dengda

    The released of Poltical detainees is the welcome news, it was known fact that they accused are innocents of alleged coup attempted charged lied against them. to me it was Kiir’s politicalpobia. I hope they government will compensate these guys for wrongly detention. Lack of evidences to prove charges is what Hoth and Mach jobs as they declined to give false evidence government expected.

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  • 25 April 2014 06:58, by Joseph Canada

    Now can we say officially that there was no coup?

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    • 25 April 2014 10:26, by mathem jech amer

      Joseph Canada
      There was coup, miscalculated by Nuers and destroyed by them.The guys arrested were meaning bloodless coup but Riek turned it into destruction of South Sudan, so the rest abstained from doing bad to their people and leave Riek alone with his Nuers who are known for devil activities.

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  • 25 April 2014 11:22, by Uncle J

    Nuer rebels are dropping their balls down the sink that’s why they always demand participation of former detainees in the peace process just for the name of Dinka taking their side. Why use Dinka as advocate to speak the language of peace for rebels when it is very clear that Mr. Riek is a liberator running NueRoCratic government in Bentieu? Keep using the disowned Dinkas and achieve worse result

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  • 25 April 2014 16:15, by Angelo Achuil

    Whether there was a true cuop attempt or just a simulation - God know and history will uncover it. In this world, there are a lot of things beyond human control and hiding truth is one.

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  • 25 April 2014 18:17, by San Manyuon

    Fellow Sudanese, now the gov’t is a step toward the direction of peace. Let not talk about whether there was coup plot or if the last released officials were never in faulted. It’s a great day toward peace. Now it’s up to opposition to create another demand, a step down for Kiir and Riek to resume power, because if not that demand, what else? Sudanese should demand Riek to exile.

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    • 25 April 2014 18:31, by San Manyuon

      Dear fellow Sudanese, i.e released officials, pls don’t take imprisonment personal or against gov’t. Many fellow Sudanese knew that indeed you were to be release at some point because the very individuals who get you into the problems are not erroneously killing civilians everywhere. Majak and Pagan, you’re still young, be patience and you will be great future leaders. Pagan, fight for ur position

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