News / Africa

No Evidence to Tie Four South Sudan Politicians to 'Coup' Bid, Court Told

The courtroom in Juba where the treason trial of four South Sudan political detainees began on March 11, 2014.
The courtroom in Juba where the treason trial of four South Sudan political detainees began on March 11, 2014.
Philip Aleu
Prosecution witnesses surprised the court when on Wednesday they tettified in favor of four South Sudanese political detainees accused of treason for their alleged role in the December uprising.

Under cross-examination, Army Brigadier General Atem Benjamin said he did not have any evidence to implicate the four men who are on trial in the attempt to topple the government of President Salva Kiir.

Benjamin had told the court, however, that he has evidence that former vice president Riek Machar led the uprising that started December 15 in a Juba military barracks. Machar, who has denied the accusation, went into hiding when the violence erupted.


The other witness, Major General Mach Paul Kuol, who is the director of military intelligence, accused former Unity state governor Taban Deng Gai of being involved in the plot.
Head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 8, 2014.Head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 8, 2014.
x
Head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 8, 2014.
Head of the rebel delegation Taban Deng Gai, addresses journalists during South Sudan's negotiations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 8, 2014.


Kuol said his accusation was based on the fact that Gai called him to ask why he had arrested a soldier who was caught in mid-December, trying to make copies of keys to an armory inside the Giada military barracks in Juba, where the fighting began.

Kuol said he found the phone call suspicious and informed his superiors.

But he also said he has no evidence that the four men on trial were involved in the alleged coup on Dec. 15.

Gai fled South Sudan when the fighting broke out and is the lead negotiator for the anti-government side at peace talks for South Sudan, being held in Addis Ababa. The government has said it has enough evidence to charge him and Machar with treason
South Sudan's former vice president turned opposition leader Riek Machar has been in hiding since violence broke out in Juba in December.South Sudan's former vice president turned opposition leader Riek Machar has been in hiding since violence broke out in Juba in December.
x
South Sudan's former vice president turned opposition leader Riek Machar has been in hiding since violence broke out in Juba in December.
South Sudan's former vice president turned opposition leader Riek Machar has been in hiding since violence broke out in Juba in December.


The two officers' testimonies contrasted with statements made to the court last week by Thomas Duoth, director general of external security, who said he had solid evidence that the four men on trial were part of a plan to seize power in a coup.

ead prosecution attorney James Mayen said his team is trying to present a complete picture of what happened when the fighting erupted in Juba in December. Not every prosecution witness will present evidence against the accused, he said.

Mayen said he was satisfied with the way the prosecution's case was proceeding. The prosecution has called six witnesses so far and will call another six before the defense presents its case, he said.

Defense lawyer Monyluak Alor called Benjamin's and Kuol's testimonies a victory for his side, and a blow to the prosecution case, which he said "is getting weaker and weaker.”

The special court in Juba began hearing the case against earlier this month.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: martin from: south Dakota USA
March 29, 2014 7:01 AM
Well it looks to me like little propoganda in this case,any way if there was enough evidence against these four top Spla officers why not let them go?and why Riack demand their release?if there is no conection,is the law fear of release the dud?why the other seven was free?

by: David from: U.S.A.
March 28, 2014 3:12 PM
It might be too early but fact will speak itself. I might not be sure about how the court system work in almost dictatorship ruling but it is mostly common sense when some one took a step to attack then say relate words of attack. If these four men are part of the "coup" why would they be in their houses while the action coup was in process? In my argument, some is not right about the whole situation. As a southern I believe that some of us always make tribal support. This I believe with out one tribe another one would not function. By knowing this slightest we should be successful not only on south Sudan also round the world. It's always struck me when our show indulging hopefully fair trial will be given to these innocent people. Mostly creator of the land provide righteousness. We can go on and on but these are just opinions. But I give great thanks VOA. Lets the freedom ring in south Sudan not dictatorship.

by: Bior Aguek from: Kenya
March 28, 2014 10:42 AM
I think it is still too earlier for either side to celebrate or complain since the case has just began with the first batch of six prosecution witnesses which is to be followed by another second batch of six witnesses before the defense team take their turn on the stage. So for the defense attorney to consider the two witness accounts as a "victory" to their side and a blow to the prosecution's side is clearly a premature claim. The entire process should be conducted first by giving both the prosecution and the defense teams to argue their cases out. The outcome of the process will therefore, depends largely on the presentation of substantially concrete evidences by the prosecutor or failure to present enough evidences that will meet the required threshold upon which the case can be fully determined.

We should therefore wait for the whole process to resume after the adjournment and proceeds to its logical conclusion. The defense team on the other hand will have to counter the prosecution team's claim by convincing the court that, the accused had nothing to do with the attempted coup of which they are alleged to have taken part in. The people of South Sudan are patiently waiting for the outcome of that case with their ears widely opened. There seems to be a little confusion in the manner in which the treason trial is being interpreted, if the four detainees are found innocent of the treason charges, does it mean there was no coup? of course not, if the four are found innocent, it means that they were not part of the coup plotters team. This is different from whether there was a coup or not because the case before court is whether they had anything to do with the alleged coup or not.

by: David from: U.S.A
March 27, 2014 8:55 PM
I am also satisfy with the two testimony those two men. Lets face this only two years a go when all south Sudanese receive independent. There was no interest in any one mind to topple the president. But president himself feel threaten when people decide to run for election in 2015. Now he then decide eliminate those who are interested in his position. He truly knows that other candidate like Dr. Machar would win over him knowing he decide to send his body guards to harm those whom they know are loyal to machar. This is how the problem started in Juba. No one in south Sudan try or thought about overthrowing president but president made a technical fight and try to shift the responsibility on other. We die for this country any create this mess he/she will be judge by the father God who put us in this land. So many life has been lost for illusional fight while the country should be focusing on build and educate its citizens who are in desperate need. I confident that those four has nothing to do with made up excuse call coup. Free them and let Pursue their future. This just my opinion is any one to discuss any of this message with, feel free to email i will be happy to present to you all the facts i have.
Thank you for excepting my opinion.
In Response

by: Nyagai from: Washington DC
March 28, 2014 2:35 PM
Well said Mr. David!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs