Juba appeal court orders retrial of 16 persons charged with graft

Wednesday April 12 2017

Activists demonstrate in Nairobi on August 27,

Activists demonstrate in Nairobi on August 27, 2015 demanding that the government assist in making sure that four Kenyans who are detained in South Sudan are released. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL 

By JOSEPH ODUHA

South Sudan's Court of Appeal has overturned the life sentence handed last year to 16 persons over corruption charges.

The 16, who include four Kenyans, former South Sudan government workers among them top presidential aides and a Central Bank employee were accused of aiding the loss of more than $14 million and another 30 million South Sudanese pounds ($4.93 million).

The money was allegedly withdrawn from the bank and more stolen from the Office of the President.

The officials were sentenced in June last year, after the presiding judge Ladu Armenio found them guilty of forging signatures including that of President Salva Kiir, the army Chief of Staff and other government officials.

The charges read out to the accused include alleged involvement in forgery, fraud, conspiracy to defraud the government, money laundering and terrorism financing which, according to the prosecution resulted in the loss of the money.

In handing the sentence, the judge said all 16 faced equal charges against them. The South Sudan High Court determined that the incidents were committed during the civil war between 2013 – 2015.

This week on Tuesday, the Court of Appeal ruled out the sentence and referred it back to the High Court in Juba.

Kur Lual, one of the defence lawyers for the convicted officials said that some information to justify the sentencing was missing.

The convicted include former security officer in the Office of the President John Agou Wuoi, former executive director Mayen Wol and former chief administrator Yel Luol.

The Kenyans, who worked at Click Technologies Ltd in South Sudan are Antony Mwadime, Ravi Ghaghda, Boniface Muriuki and Antony Keya.

South Sudan has been ranked among the top corrupt countries in the region, according to Transparency International.

Last year, Enough Project released a report detailing how South Sudanese leaders were looting the country’s resources at the expense of innocent civilians.