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SSPDF to punish executioners of Mayom suspects

SSPDF to punish executioners of Mayom suspects
Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai, SSPDF spokesperson address the media in Juba on Tuesday, August 9, 2022

The military headquarters, Bilpam has promised to punish those behind the execution of four people in Mayom County of Unity state.

Over the weekend, officials in Unity state executed in a firing squad three individuals believed to be allied to the SSPM/SSPA under renegade General Stephen Buay.

Another young man was also burnt alive in a grass-thatched house.

In widely condemned videos circulating on social media, 8 soldiers are seen lining up and shooting at three young men sitting down with hoods placed over their heads, and hands tied behind their backs.

The execution reportedly happened in Kaikang area – north of Mayom County’s headquarters.

The victims are alleged to be behind last month’s killing of Mayom County Commissioner  James Chuol Gatluak Manime in July. Late Chuol is the elder brother of National Security Advisor to the President, Tut Gatluak.

In a statement on Tuesday, the SSPDF said it did not sanction the killing of the 4 individuals.

The army through the Chief of Defense Forces condemned the extrajudicial killing reportedly authorized by the government of Unity state.

“We would like to announce to the people of South Sudan and the whole world that a mother of all investigations will be carried out because the images were really heart-breaking and inhumane 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,” Major General Lul Ruai, SSPDF spokesperson announced.

He said, although the executioners were men in military uniform, the SSPDF headquarters did not authorize the killing.

“All the things you had watched, did happened without approval or authorization from the leadership of the army. We have very clear record of how we deal with prisoners of war whenever they are captured.”

The execution of the three young men has widely been condemn by South Sudanese online.

They said the killing amounts to gross human rights violation by the government and a denial of due judicial process for any accused person.

According to the constitution, an accused person is presumed to be innocent until his or her guilt is proved according to the law.

Maj. Gen. Lul Ruay asked for patients while investigations are being conducted. He said the army has a lot of questions over the nature of arrest and killing of the four.

“Is it true these suspects are the real ones? Who handed them over from Sudan as it is circulating on social media? We at general headquarters are not aware of who handed and who received them at the border point and who authorized the execution to be carried out,” Lul stated.

He reiterated the army’s position on military-style extrajudicial killings.

“What we have seen was a major miscarriage of justice. It has psychological feelings and impact on everyone and therefore, it cannot go unpunished.”

The four suspects were not tried before a court of law. Their execution happened less than 24hours after their reported arrested by Sudan Rapid Support Forces (SRF) and handed over to the governor of Unity state.

South Sudan constitution states any accused person has the right to defend himself or herself in person or through a lawyer of his or her own choice or to have legal aid assigned to him or her by the government where he or she cannot afford a lawyer to defend him or her in any serious offence.

The law also says no death penalty shall be imposed, save as punishment for extremely serious offences in accordance with the law.