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WAU - 8 Jan 2013

SSTV journalist still detained in Wau following clashes – WBeG Governor

The governor of the recently troubled region of Western Bahr el-Ghazal, Rizik Zakaria Hassan, spoke in Juba on Monday about the impact of December’s clashes in Wau.

The press conference addressed a number of questions posed recently by the media and commentators including the arrest of members of the media in the state as well as damages resulting from the violence.

The governor discussed the destruction of trucks and property and estimated the damages to be valued at four billion SSP.  He pointed to the nine trucks burned during the violence and claimed that a responsibility to compensate those who lost property lay not with the state but the country.

The governor explained, “Will there be compensation? Yes there will be compensation for the 9 trucks which were burnt and the 4 that were looted. This is a crime which will not be accounted for by the state but by the Republic of South Sudan because a foreigner does not know that there is a political problem of relocating to Baggari but knows that his goods were looted by South Sudanese.”

The political-turned-ethnic clashes began following an agreement to move the Wau county headquarters to the town of Baggari.  At least fourteen people were killed and dozens more injured with state security forces being implicated in some of the deaths.

A number of state legislators and journalists were reported to have been detained or have received threats following coverage of the clashes which received international media attention. 

Rizik confirmed on Monday that one journalist – SSTV’s Deputy Director of television Kamilo Luchiano – is still in detention amidst an ongoing investigation.  He is accused of sabotaging coverage of the president’s speech during his visit to Wauin December.

The governor stated, “This person has now been stopped and is undergoing legal procedures. Because we consider what he did as sabotage, we didn’t want to talk about this but we see the media has focused on this a lot recently. So we tell you that your colleague has been detained due to this mistake which we consider a gross violation.”

He went on to detail the alleged sabotage as taking place when Kamilo sent a faulty recording device with the journalist covering the president’s speech which could therefore not be covered by state-run radio.

A reconciliation committee is said to have been formed and currently working to resolve differences which led to the initial outbreak of violence.