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Juba City - 29 Jan 2023

Reconstituted Court Martial to hear case of Gogrial West killer soldier

SSPDF Spokesperson Gen. Lul Ruai addressing the press at the GCM. (Photo/Radio Tamazuj)
SSPDF Spokesperson Gen. Lul Ruai addressing the press at the GCM. (Photo/Radio Tamazuj)

The General Court Martial (GCM) of the SSPDF’s Department of Military Justice convened to try Private Yak Garang Yak who shot and killed three Syrian construction workers and a local boy in Akon village in Gogrial West County in Warrap State earlier in the year has been reconstituted and will start hearing the case on 10 February.

Last Monday, Private Garang’s defense team queried the naming and constitution of the GCM and wondered whether it was an investigative committee or a GCM and said the former is headed by a chairperson and the latter, by a president.

Speaking to Journalists on Friday after the first session of the reconstituted GCM, SSPDF spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang said the court handled the objections raised by the defense team on Monday, the legal compliance of the GCM, and heard from the prosecution. He also said that legal advisors have been appointed to the GCM.

“The GCM was rejected by the defense team on several grounds; one was its composition and the duplication of duties-one person was doubling as a prosecutor and also as a member of the court. Then there was the issue of naming and the titles of the head and whether it was an investigation committee or a GCM,” he explained. “In compliance with the objections raised by the defense team, it was resolved that the person heading the GCM is now called President of the Court Martial and not the chairman of the investigation committee.”   

He said the defense team had no objection and agreed to the changes made to the GCM presided over by GCM President Maj. Gen. Majo Michael Chan.

According to Gen. Ruai, another sticky legal matter that the defense team raised was the lack of a complainant in the case.

“The defense team wanted to know who the complainant is because for any legal process to go ahead, there must be a complainant. During the presentation, there was no indication that someone came forward complaining that his/her employees had been murdered,” he said. “They (defense) then requested for an authorization letter from a complainant to be presented before the court in the next sitting of the court.”   

The army mouthpiece however revealed that the court rejected a request by the defense team that the accused be transferred from Military Intelligence holding to the custody of the Military Police for his safety.

Gen. Ruai said the court also heard a narration from the public prosecutor about how the accused calculatingly gunned down his victims.

“The prosecution team, after their initial presentation on Monday, prematurely demanded that the accused be sentenced to death by firing squad. I think they put the cart before the horse,” he said. “Today (Friday), they said they need more time to present the exhibits in the crime which include the gun which was used, two smartphones that were taken from the dead Syrians, witnesses from the crime scene, and a vehicle belonging to his victims which the accused used to flee the scene of the crime.”

He said the relatives of the local youngster who was killed by the accused will also appear in court.

The GCM granted the wishes of the prosecution team and gave them two weeks to gather more evidence and the exhibits and adjourned to 10 February.

Private Yak Garang Yak, a member of the Tiger Division which protects the president is accused of shooting three Syrian construction workers who were building President Salva Kiir’s house and a young man in Akon village on 7 January.