South Sudan’s apex court has convicted four Kenyans to nine years imprisonment and acquitted six nationals in the long- running trial of 16 suspects accused of stealing 14 million U.S. dollars in the president’s office in 2015.
Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Judge John Gatwech Lul delivered the judgment on Monday after accused lawyers in April appealed the High Court’s June 2016 ruling which sentenced the four to life imprisonment.
The convicted Kenyans had been working for a local IT company owned by South Sudanese Agou Wuoi, who got sentenced to 14 years in prison after the court found him guilty of masterminding the theft.
Agou prior to his conviction had worked in President Salva Kiir’s office and his company was by then contracted to supply the latter’s office with stationery services, but later on accused some of his associates of malice and intrigue after being axed from work.
The court despite acquitting the six South Sudanese, sentenced other four nationals including Agou, and demanded they refund about 5 million U.S. dollars in form of compensation for public money lost.
The leading defense lawyer for the suspects Kiir Chol Deng welcomed the decision for acquitting the six, but disagreed with the verdict for sentencing the ten.
“I agree with the Supreme Court order to acquit the six suspects. I disagree with the supreme court in its decision to sentence the ten suspects,” he said.
Deng disclosed one of their options is to apply to the Supreme Court to review its decision, or go to the constitutional court.
He added he will also consider going to the East African court of justice or request president Kiir to pardon the suspects.
The Kenyan government at one time was forced to engage their South Sudanese counterparts after relatives of the four accused Kenyans, including human rights groups protested their trial and life imprisonment sentence initially handed out by the court. Enditem