18 December 2012

Sudan: Judge in Warrap's Twic County Dismisses Sabotage Charges Against Youth Leader

Wau — A local youth leader from South Sudan's Twic County in Warrap State has been cleared of sabotage charges against him by county authorities in November, youth groups and relative told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

Atem Ayuel Atem was arrested on 1 November 2012, at a public meeting in Wunrok, allegedly for mobilizing community leaders to object double taxes. He was also accused of causing "chaos" and turning the community against county authorities. Other charges included being mentally ill, causing a disturbance and mobilising the community against government policies and administrative directives.

Wunrok Payam [district] Administrator, Majok Deng Aguer, additionally filed charges alleging that the youth leader had mobilised a group of young people to forcefully close down his office on 14 February.

The case was filed and put forward for study and judgment by court judge in Turalei, an administrative headquarters of Twic County, Warrap. On 14 December 2012, Turalei judge, Dijo Stephen Abraham dismissed all the charges and explained that the youth leader was exercising his constitutional right to express his opinion on matters relating to public affairs.

Atem said they closed the office of the Payam administrative because they were acting in response to his administrative order dissolving executive council of the local youth body, allegedly for asking where 60% of local taxes were going.

"This group has entered into politics. The purpose of formation of the association was simply to see how they would organise themselves and not how to monitor performance of the administration. It was not to ask percent of the taxes generated in the area and what was supposed to remain in the area where taxes have been collected"; multiple traditional leaders and legislators quoted Aguer as saying while ordering dissolution of the youth body in February.

Sudan Tribune was not able to reach Aguer despite several attempts on Friday, though Atem Ayuel Atem, a youth leader who claimed to have been arrested by his order said he has been cleared by a local judge and it was up to him to initiate or drop a case against the administrator.

"I have been cleared of allegations and concocted charges by Wunrok Payam Administrator, Majok Deng Aguer. A court presided by Judge Dijo Stephen Abraham, on 13 December 2012, dismissed all the charges. It did not find any evidence", Atem told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

He said allegations against him by the Payam administrator, according to the judge included: closing his office in February, opposing doubling taxes, claims of being mad and causing chaos at a public meeting on November 1st in Wunrok and working to mobilise community against policies and administrative directives to raise local taxes and adherence to instructions.

He praised the judge for showing independence in the case and assertion to take to court distortion of his political image in and outside the community by the Payam administrator.

"I have reasons to go to court because I was arrested without warrant. He opened the case after arresting me for eight days. This is unconstitutional. It is an abuse of power and constitution. He has tarnished my image by claiming that I am a mad. Who will accept that I am not mad? This is now known by the whole world because has now become a small village", asked Atem.

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