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South African sentenced to death in South Sudan
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02/23/2018 12:05 PM
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A South Sudanese court sentenced a South African retired army colonel to death by hanging Friday for his alleged role in supporting rebels during the country’s four year civil war.
William Endley, 56, was arrested in late 2016 following the collapse of a peace deal between South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and former vice president turned rebel leader Riek Machar.
South Sudan’s civil war is one of the worst in the world, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of people, a brief famine, and the largest refugee crisis in Africa since the 1994 Rwanda genocide.
Endley served as a security advisor to Machar after the war began. Previously he had worked at security firms in the capital Juba.
The court sentenced him to two years imprisonment for illegal entry into South Sudan, four years for publication of false information, seven years for training and sabotage, and to death for conspiracy to overthrow the government, said defense lawyer Gar Adel Gar.
Gar told Mail & Guardian said the court’s verdict was a “mockery of justice.”
“I am intending to appeal next week as soon as I receive a copy of the court decree,” he said.
Gar accused the court of not following proper procedures regarding evidence and witnesses. No defense witnesses testified in the trial.
The lawyer said the trial should have been cancelled and any charges dropped because Kiir’s government signed a ceasefire with rebel groups in December that mandated all sides release prisoners of war and political prisoners. The ceasefire was broken within hours as fighting continued.
“This case should have been stayed immediately upon the signing of the cessation of hostilities, because the government committed to releasing all the prisoners of war or the political detainees,” said Gar. “He should have been unconditionally released.”
In January, Endley’s previous lawyers pulled out of the case saying the trial should not go forward due to the cessation of hostilities.
Endley’s co-accused, James Gatdet Dak, a former spokesman for Machar, was sentenced to death by hanging two weeks ago. Dak was deported to Juba by Kenyan authorities in late 2016 despite holding refugee status after fleeing South Sudan, and arrested upon arrival.
South Sudan’s ceasefire monitoring group, called the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, said last week that they are looking into the case of the detainees with East African regional bloc IGAD, which brokered the December cessation of hostilities agreement.
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