Court in the South Sudanese Capital, Juba has officially released the four South Sudanese Political detainees accused of plotting to overthrow President Salva Kiir’s government.
The detainees include Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Majak D’Agot, Oyai Deng Ajak and Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth. They were jointly charged with attempting a coup last year.
Yesterday the South Sudanese government announced that it was dropping treason charges against the four political prisoners who have been detained since the outbreak of the national crisis in December last year.
Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny said the government’s decision is part of a bid to expedite the peace negotiations between representatives of the administration and the rebels in neighboring Ethiopia to help resolve the country’s conflict.
The rebels have demanded the release of the detainees as one of their main conditions at the talks. Ateny says the rebels can no longer use the alleged coup plotters detention as pretext to stall the peace negotiations.
The four prisoners pleaded innocent and said the prosecution failed to present any substantial evidence whatsoever of the charges, insisting that there was never any coup attempt.
This stance was reiterated after the release when Pagan Amum told a press conference that the government noticed the court was going to prove that the group was not guilty.
But Justice Minister Palino Wanawilla explained that the leadership made this decision for the purpose of promoting dialogue, reconciliation and harmony among South Sudanese. It however maintains charges against Dr Riek Machar, Taban Deng and Alfred Lado, who are fighting the government.