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JUBA - 4 Apr 2014

Prosecutor: ‘Treason case is not collapsing’

Lead Prosecutor James Mayen says the government’s cases against Pag’an Amum and three other prominent South Sudanese politicians is not collapsing, after a group of prosecution witnesses failed to appear in court today on the final deadline set by the judge.

The South Sudanese special court set up to rule on the treason charges made against four SPLM politicians met again Friday at the High Court premises in Juba, near the Juba Teaching Hospital.

The court today threatened to close the case after the prosecution failed to bring witnesses to testify against the four prisoners. It also ruled that the prosecutor should bring the witness who is responsible for having recorded audio of phone calls that the prosecution seeks to introduce as evidence.

In the opening of the trial, the prosecution said they would produce an audio recording of a phone call between one of the detainees, Oyai Deng Ajak, and the former governor of Unity State, Taban Deng Gai, who is now a leading figure in the rebellion.

During the call the two discussed the events at the armory of the presidential guards on the night of 15 December, according to the prosecutor, who said, “This audio will be produced in court and all of you will hear it, and other things, other transcripts that were recorded that night.”

But the court ruled it would accept this audio to be played in the court only if the person who recorded the audio also appear or testify before this court, thus giving a chance for the defense team to cross-examine him.  

The judge today ruled that if the prosecution fails to bring a witness to be cross-examined about the audio, the case could be closed.

“Therefore we have given one last chance for the prosecution to bring the person who recorded the audio calls to appear by Monday, 7 April, or else the treason case will be close,” said the judge.

Additionally, none of the four prosecution witnesses who were summoned by the court in its last hearing have appeared today, the deadline that was set for their appearance.

Mayen, the prosecutor, was asked by journalists after the hearing whether the prosecution was ready to bring the person who recorded the audio evidence as requested by the judge, or not.

He replied, “Well, we are going to sit down and decide on it.”

Concerning his four witnesses who were meant to appear in court this week, the prosecutor said, “We don’t know where they are, we have being looking for them and have disappeared in the town.”

Acknowledging that they have dropped the interior minister as a witness, after he declined to appear in the court, the prosecutor defended the treason case saying it is not collapsing.

But the defense lawyer Monyluak Alor said, “The prosecution has failed to bring their last group of prosecution witnesses and went ahead asking the court to give them chance to produce an audio recording, but they thought they can play the audio without the person who made it,” he said.

He said that according to the law, the person who recorded the audio has to be brought before the court to answer questions, especially from the defense side.

“If they want us to hear this audio then they will bring the person who recorded it, so we are not sure whether they will bring that person, and if they don’t bring that person then their case is closed,” Monyluak added.

Photo: James Mayen, lead prosecutor of the government