Court martial convicts 20 SSPDF in Yei

The convicted South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) in Yei River

By James Innocent

The General Military Court Martial established in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State on Monday convicted 20 soldiers of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) for various crimes ranging from murder, rape and looting among other petty crimes.  

The 20 soldiers were handed different sentences based on their crime, counts with the heaviest being murder case handed both jail terms and blood compensation while the rape and theft cases bear the brunt of cash fines and imprisonment terms.

The convicts were handed their sentences by the Military Court Martial in Yei River County main military garrison during the final hearing which was attended by members of the public, Heads of the Organized Forces, representatives of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM), Civil Society Organizations, victims’ relatives, survivors and witnesses.

The Commissioner of Yei River County, Aggry Cyrus Kanyikwa articulated during the general court martial that, the military court martial is to prove their competency to the people of South Sudan and prove their commitment and determination to end impunity to commit crime against civilians.

“Impunity is not what we want, violation of our laws is not what we want as government abuse of human rights is not what we fought for, discrimination is what we fought against and we have no right to promote it in Yei River County of Central Equatoria State,” Commissioner Cyrus said.

The SSPDF area Commander in Yei River County, Brigadier John Lual commended the team of the General Military Court Martial for taking the rule of law to Yei military garrison.

He said that the court martial has shown them example to keep the rule of law, not to break the law. He pointed out that the role of soldiers is to protect civilians.

Meanwhile, the police inspector of Yei River County Dominic Sabino Tobo stated that the general court martial is good for the people of Yei to understand that, there is law in the country.

In addition, the Deputy President of the General Military Court Martial Col. Mayol Jiek who is also the Legal Advisor to SSPDF, issued out verdicts to the soldiers during the final hearing of court martial in Yei on Monday.

Eleven (11) of the suspects were convicted of murder cases and charged to pay blood compensation of 51 cows and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment; 2 of the suspects were convicted for rape and charged to pay 250,000 South Sudanese Pounds, each and handed ten years’ imprisonment while other 3 suspects were convicted and fined 200,000 South Sudanese Pounds each and two of whom were handed 7 years, one given 5 years’ jail terms respectively.

Moreover, two other suspects were charged to pay 150,000 South Sudanese Pounds and sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment for looting; and one other suspect was convicted and fined 1.5 million Pounds for harming a child and he was served with 5 years’ imprisonment in addition to the fine.

However, one of the suspects was acquitted because there were no sufficient evidences to prove him guilty of the accusations brought against him.

Besides, some of the cases were postpone due to absence of the victims and witnesses. The general court martial said it would be working on summons of 9 other accused soldiers whose cases were not heard in the District Court Martial in 2020.

The convicted soldiers were however granted the rights to go for appeal within the period of fifteen days, before their sentences are confirmed for them to serve their punishments.

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