South Sudanese Teen Escapes Death Sentence

Khartoum, Sudan — THE quashing of a death sentence earlier imposed on a teenager has prompted calls for South Sudan to abolish capital punishment.

South Sudan's Court of Appeal has quashed the sentence against Magai Matiop Ngong (18) because he was a minor when he mistakably shot his cousin during a confrontation.

Ngong was 15 at the time when, while he was involved in a scuffle with an elderly neighbor, drew his father's gun and fired a warning shot to the ground, only for the bullet to rebound and kill his cousin.

The appeals court has sent his case back to the High Court to rule on an appropriate sentence.

It has ordered Ngong's removal from death row.

More than 765, 000 people around the world had also petitioned President Salva Kiir to commute Magai's death sentence.

Amnesty International welcomed the appeals court's decision because under international law a child could not be sentenced to death.

"Magai is one of the lucky ones," Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International's Director for East and Southern Africa, said.

Muchena said at least two other people, who were children at the time of their crimes, had been executed in the country since May 2018.

The human rights advocate said the South Sudanese government must fully comply with local and international law that prohibited the use of the death penalty against anyone below 18 years of age at the time the crime was committed.

"The authorities must abolish this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment," Muchena said.

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