By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan high court has finally sentenced to jail political activist Peter Biar and entrepreneur Kerbino Wol to 2 and 15 years in prison respectively, following accusation that they threatened the security of the Africa youngest country.
The High Court in Juba issued the verdict on Tuesday in the last hearing of the case. As Mr. Biar was slapped with two years and businessman Kerbino is given 10 years as well as other 3 years and 2 years in prison.
Four other co – accused persons received five years each. All prison terms start from the date of detention.
The London – based economist Biar was detained in July 2018, while entrepreneur Kerbino was detained in April the same year.
The former lost boy, Biar was accused by the National Security Service (NSS) of campaigning for the exit of president Kiir, whereas Mr. Kerbino was also accused of masterminding subversive activities against president Kiir.
In theirs’ first appearing in the Juba high court earlier this year, they were accused of treason and terrorism, undermining the government activities.
The final high court ruling on Biar and Kerbino was being condemning by multiple lawyers and activists, saying it is injustice.
However, the defense lawyers argued that both Biar and Kerbino were sentenced not because of the articles in the constitution but the situation dictates it.
Anyang Ngong, Biar’s defense lawyer said they are protesting the high court verdict, arguing that it is a big embarrassing and shame to the judiciary system in the country.
He said there is no single case labeled against Dr. Biar, as the witnesses testified earlier that Biar was not a party to those who took riot at the Blue house in Juba.
“The court decision itself is in conflict with the laws of South Sudan as enshrined in the transitional constitution,” says Ngong.
Ajak Mayol, another defense lawyer says the trial was unfair, following with intimidation of defense lawyers and witnesses.
“There was not a free and fair trial. There was serious harassment and intimidation of defense lawyers and witnesses and even the arbitrary arrest and detention of a witness who testified against the interest the government,” Mayol told this media.
The observers described the court’s decision as it is despairing, as they say the Juba regime is trying in the court of law and that of public opinion to make the skeptical case that these two successful and inspirational young men are the main enemies of the state more than the unknown and known gunmen of the world youngest country.
John Peter, resident of Juba, who followed up the court activities, saying president Kiir’s government has totally failed to uphold justice, accountability and transparency, arguing that the court and government would have set them free because they are innocent.
Another Juba resident, Garang Atem, said this move is threatening to the freedom of expression in the state, fearing that many people may fall into this awful verdict as the leadership remains a threat to justice and rule of law in South Sudan.
Peter Dau, 28 years old, student, is asking president Kiir to forgive Dr. Biar, Kerbino and other four co-accused persons in whatever crimes they have committed or accused for, and release them like previous convicts.