13 February 2018

South Sudan: Rebels Seek Help to Quash Machar's Spokesman Death Penalty

Photo: Voxcom/IRIN
Talks mediator Riek Machar during earlier talks in Ri-kwangba

South Sudanese rebels are seeking the intervention of the region and international community to help quash a death penalty handed to a top rebel official.

James Gatdet Dak was sentenced to death on February 12 for treason.

The Sudanese Peoples' Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO), the main rebel group led by Dr Riek Machar, accuses the Juba government of violating the latest ceasefire agreement, signed on December 21 last year, that provided for release of political detainees.

Mr Dak is a former spokesperson of Dr Machar.

"It is shameful that when the regime should be working to create a conducive environment for negotiations, they are instead handing down a bogus death penalty. This unjust abuse of the death penalty is not only against the Cessation of Hostilities, but it is also contrary to basic human decency," said Mabior Garang de Mabior, the SPLM-IO chief of information and public relations.

Mr Dak was arrested in Kenya and deported to Juba in November 2016 to face several charges including treason.

The high court in Juba sentenced him to death by hanging on Monday for inciting violence, conspiracy against government and insulting the president. He has 15 days to appeal the ruling.

His lawyer, Monyluak Alor Kuol, described the ruling as a political decision which ought to have been addressed at the Igad-led talks on revitalisation process in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Mr De Mabior said the SPLM-IO calls on the African Union, Troika - Unites States, Britain and Norway, the European Union and the United Nations, who are stakeholders in the peace process, to intervene in what he called "blatant violation of human rights."

He also urged rebels and supporters to remain calm "in the face of these callous provocations", adding that the verdict could provoke violence and undermine the political talks in Addis Ababa.

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