New findings in the case of alleged corruption in the office of the South Sudan President have poked holes in the process of administration of justice starting from the time of arrests detention, investigation, trial, and sentencing up to conviction.
The case involved 16 people from different institutions including Office of the President, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Bank of South Sudan and staff of Click Technologies Ltd.
Findings from a research conducted for over one year by Legal Watch Associates South Sudan have indicated that the whole process was marred with shortcomings, most of which are outlined in their report.
The research was conducted using the methodology of collecting information from various sources including court sessions, one on one interviews with the institutions involved and phone interviews and a comprehensive report was made.
The case started as a rumor that $500 million had been stolen from the office of the president and transferred to the account of John Agou in Nairobi, Kenya in favor of Mayen Wol Jong, the Chief Administrator and Yel Luol Koor, the Executive Director.
“The alleged sum of $500 million was not found during the investigation despite the fact that the intelligence report misled the president to suspend the two senior officials from their positions.”
After the investigation committee failed to find the alleged sum of $500 million said to have been stolen, the committee shifted to auditing the executive office of the president without the normal procedures of auditing a classified institution.
The report observes that the long arrest and detention of the accused people for over a year was illegal and unlawful.
“The suspects were not accorded their rights as per the constitution neither were they arraigned in court to be remanded by competent court.”
“The searches that were conducted at the accused persons’ houses were illegal and unlawful as there was no due process of the law followed. The break in and storming of Click Technologies Ltd without court search warrant was a direct threat to right of personal property,” the report observes.
Research found out that the auditing that became the new base of the investigation and the case after the failure to find the $500 million as alleged in the intelligence report was not independent, impartial or fair.
“It did not meet international standards that required that auditors must work without influence from the institution being audited. The auditors were working at the same premises with the investigation committee and the complainant.”
“The seal and signature of the president that is alleged to have been used in the forgery was a mere gimmick by the investigation committee to incriminate the accused people and to make the case stronger in the public domain. There was no single document found bearing the seal and the signature of H.E. the president requesting money from the ministry of finance or central bank.”
Court Trial and Sentencing
One of the accused, Athorbei Gaddaffy was not charged in absentia neither was his money amounting to USD $8.6 million and SSP 711,500 were drop from the case and instead were made part of the case by the investigation committee and the prosecution team.
“The goods that the prosecution presented to the court as having not been delivered are still being used in the office of the president up to this hour. The donation from H.E. the president to Greater Lakes States women parliamentarian are denied to have been delivered despite the fact that the contractor Mr. Simon Lupai of Lupain Motors confirming to the court as having delivered the cars and having received his money.”
The report further points out that the trial judge was heavily intimidated and influenced by the prosecution to blindly rule in their favor.
“The trial did not meet the constitutional threshold of fair trial. The accused people were not given fair hearing to defend themselves before the law. Defense witnesses were denied access to enter the court room and some were threatened and made to withdraw from testifying. Lawyers were threatened at gun point.”
“The trial judge did not administer justice in a fair, independent and impartial manner. He unified the charges during the pre-trial without distinction between the first accused to the last accused persons.”
The report notes that during the research, the judge confessed to one of the researchers that he was under innermost pressure to sentence the accused persons without exception and with the most severe conviction in the law.
“The complainant, General Paul Nang Majok categorically stated during his cross examination in court that he does not know some of the accused people as he did not open any case against them. He said that he was only ordered to arrest only five people among the 16 accused persons in court and the rest, he did not open any case against them.”
Legal Watch Associates notes that the case is a complete miscarriage of justice and has negatively tainted the image of the country and the office of the president.
“The same rumors like the one that this case of the 16 people was built is like the recent news article on Sudantribune.com that claims that $280 million has been stolen from the office of the president. Such propaganda does not advance positive interest of the country. People who circulate such rumours must be tracked down, investigated and prosecuted and sent to prison for the rest of their lives,” the associates recommend in their report.
“For justice to prevail, we call upon the appeal panel that is reviewing the case to expedite the case and release these people from prison without delay.”