News, Warrap

Court Martial adjourns case of 54 slain soldiers

By William Madouk

Military General Court Martial has adjourned the trial of 33 armed civilians accused of killing 54 SSPDF soldiers in Warrap State of South Sudan.

The suspects, who comprise civilians, army deserters of SSPDF, police, and prison wardens, were supposed to make their maiden appearance in military court at Giyada, on Wednesday.

Military Spokesman, Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang told journalists that the General Court Martial adjourned the sitting to June 28 due to the absence of members of defense teams and prosecutors.

“We had wanted to make the first appearance of 33 suspects accused of killing 54 SSPDF soldiers that were killed on June 26, 2022, at Rualbet,” Lul said.

“We are postponing this session for two reasons: members of the General Court Martial are incomplete, and one of them is not feeling well,” Maj. Gen. Lul added.

He said, secondly, the defense teams, as well as the prosecution team, were not around; that they had gone to attend a workshop on the rule of law.

According to Maj. Gen. Lul, the purpose of the first court hearing was to know who the accused are and whether they have their own defense team.

“Secondly, we want to know whether the accused are having their own lawyers or whether they will require the state to provide for them,” Maj. Gen. Lul noted.

“The third reason why we wanted the accused to appear was also for them to come and tell us whether they have any objection to the composition of the General Court Martial,” he added.

The five-member General Court Martial is chaired by Maj. Gen. Majok Michael Chan and deputized by Brig. Gen. Alex Makelele Nyijok.

The accused allegedly killed over 50 soldiers, including two senior officers at the rank of colonel, on June 26, 2022.

The clash erupted in Rualbet Payam of Tonj North County, Warrap State, when soldiers were on a mission to recover 124 stolen cattle from armed youths.

“They [the SSPDF forces] were overwhelmed, outnumbered, and outgunned, and as a result, 54 servicemen lost their lives, including two officers at the Rank of colonel,” Lul stated.

Those killed were Military Chief of Intelligence Division 11, Lt. Col. Akec Ciman Paac, the SSPDF Division 11 Military Chief for Operations, Maj. Santino Kuot Kuotdit, and the former Mayen Jur County Commissioner, Kuol Agok.

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