We didn’t authorize extrajudicial killing in Mayom

South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) spokesman, Major General Lul Ruai photo by William M Garang

By William Madouk Garang

The South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) leadership on Tuesday distanced itself from the execution of four suspects alleged to be the killers of Mayom County Commissioner, citing that the army’s leadership did not approve the firing squad.

The SSPDF spokesperson, Major General Lul Ruai Kong said an investigative committee will be formed to carefully probe the incident, and arrest those who masterminded firing squad.

A video circulating on social media saw, soldiers executing the three via firing squad, while setting Brig. Gen. Gatluak Majiok Liey on fire in a hut to retaliate the killing of Mayom County Commissioner.

The captured suspects were blindfolded and about a dozen soldiers opened fire on them at the command of perceived senior officers.

The suspects were reportedly arrested by the Sudanese forces in connection to the recent killing of the Commissioner of Mayom County along with 10 other people including his bodyguards, where the Commissioners’ home was torched.

Addressing the media yesterday, Ruai said they had seen pictures and videos depicting men in uniform firing at alleged Mayom Commissioner’s Killers, adding that the army’s leadership didn’t authorize it.

“We saw the graphic images, pictures as well as videos; I also had an opportunity of listening to the audio. This morning the leadership of SSPDF – Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Santino Deng Wol made it crystal clear what happened in Mayom County –“Those who were executed by firing squad and the person who was allegedly tied up and burnt alive, all the things you have watched did happen without approval or authorization from the leadership of the army,” Ruai clarified.

The army’s spokesperson described the images and videos floating on the internet as truly heart breaking, inhumane, vowing that as a result no stone will be left unturned to ensure that the culprits were brought to book and convicted in accordance with the law.

“We would like to announce to people of South Sudan and the whole world that a full investigation will be carried out – a thorough investigation will be carried out, and all those who took part in all the processes that led to the execution by firing squad and the alleged burning of another suspect are going to be brought to book,” Gen. Lul asserted.  

He cited that during the liberation struggle, the SPLA followed international laws especially in handling prisoners of war, adding that what just happened was not their behavior as a national army.

He recalled that in January 1989, the SPLA forces captured about 500 soldiers from the Sudanese forces including one commander in Nasir battle but they were kept safe and later on released untouched.

Lul also stated that in 1997, after Yei’s fall, a large number of Sudanese army nearly 2,000 of them were arrested but were treated humanely, the wounded ones were given treatment and international board was involved before they were later on released.

“I cited these examples, to tell you that what happened in Mayom was a serious miscarriage of justice and it must not be condoned, those people behind it must be held accountable,” he affirmed.

On Monday, the press secretary in the office of Unity State Governor, Mr. Peter Bakuony confirmed that the manhunt was successful and the four suspects were arrested in the process.

“Ultimate victory for capturing the key four criminal commanders belonging to South Sudan People‘s Movement/Army (SSPM/A)’ who murdered the Commissioner of Mayom County on 22nd July 2022,” read parts of the statement.

The statement further stated that the arrest of the alleged rebel members allied to Stephen Buay Rolnyang rebel movement was made based on directives of Governor Manytuil to counter insurgency forces at parade in Kai-Kang Military Barracks on 5th August, 2022 along the Sudanese border.

However, when contacted to comment on the alleged suspects’ execution yesterday, the Governor’s press, Bakuony said they can’t talk on the matter but said SSPDF should be the one now to reply to matter.

“We don’t want to be the one explaining this, it has to be the army because this now something that reached killing or execution is no longer jurisdiction as a state government this is now issue of national security. I talk to many media houses this morning and I use to direct them to the national government especially SSPDF, they are the ones now to respond,” he told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via phone call interview.

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