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Abraham Chol conspired to overthrow gov’t, cause disaffection among organized forces, court told

Abraham Chol conspired to overthrow gov’t, cause disaffection among organized forces, court told
Abraham Chol and co-accused appear in court in Juba on October 5, 2022. Credit//Michael Daniel/Eye Radio

Self-proclaimed prophet Abraham Chol appeared in court on Wednesday with four other people more than a year after he claimed the Presidency would be toppled by July 2021.

In May last year, Abraham Chol claimed he received a “divine” message that says President Salva Kiir and Vice President Dr. Riek Machar would be removed from their seats.

“Good News!! By divine Kingship authority, I decree and declare that the time of the current President H.E Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and all movements who are fighting for power is finish now,” Abraham Chol proclaimed.

In his unsubstantiated social media assertions, Abraham Chol stated that the independence day celebration on July 9, 2021, will be marked as a farewell and thanksgiving to President Kiir and Dr. Machar for “their good service to the nation for the last 37 years of struggle.”

He also claimed the day will be used to welcome “the new President of the Republic of South Sudan.”

Abraham Chol further called on “the country to give thanks to God…and be ready for the new beginning and new government.”

None of his assertions came to past. President Kiir and Dr. Machar are still leading the transitional government of unity as per the 2018 revitalized peace agreement.

Abraham Chol was arrested in his house at night in Juba on August 1, 2021.

The assertions are now being used against him in the ongoing court hearing.

He appeared with four other accused persons before a judge in Juba on Wednesday.

The self-proclaimed prophet and the other defendants are charged with attempting to overthrow the constitutional government by unconstitutional means, and subverting of the constitutional government.

Other charges include; Undermining Authority of or Insulting President, causing disaffection among Police Force or Defence Forces, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to South Sudan.

“There are a lot charges against the accused not less than seven sections from our penal code Act 2008, section 66,” his lawyer, Deng John Deng said.

“The public prosecution attorney charged Abraham Chol and the rest of his colleague of wanting to change the government by unconstitutional means,” he stated.

The defense lawyer, however, argued that the utterances and publication by Abraham Chol are protected under the Bill of Rights.

“Abraham Chol was using his constitutional right which is freedom of expression enshrined in article 24 of the transitional constitution of the Republic of South Sudan 2011 as amended.  He has a right to express himself or even criticize the government based on the way he thinks,” he argued.

Deng John further defended his client as someone who has not used violence to undermine or attempt to overthrow a sitting government.

“He didn’t use a weapon to change the government. He used his right to talk to the people that there is a lot of corruption in the country, he wants to correct this thing. They want a good government to provide good services to the citizens.”

The four individuals being tried are also charged with aiding and abetting Abraham Chol’s assertions.

They include two members of the church and the two immigration officers who were all picked up in their houses after the arrest of Abraham Chol.

But the self-proclaimed prophet told the court that the individuals were not party to his actions.

“Those investigations are mine but there are few things that are not correct like these people who are allied to me, they have no relation to the decree. The decree is personal, it has nothing to do with them. They are innocent,” he told investigators in writing.

Meanwhile, Deng said the defense team was not given enough time to study the allegations against his clients.

“They presented prosecution document today in the court and the time was not enough for us to examine the investigation which was presented to court,” he claimed.

He is, however, hopeful that “in the next session, we will be allowed to discuss what was written and defend the accused because defense is the constitutional right of every accused…We will prove that this document was not genuine.”

The court hearing has been adjourned to October 10, 2022.

The case against Abraham Chol and the four accused is being heard by Judge Somia Mohamed Saleh.