Dr. Peter Biar Ajak and Kerbino Wol appeared before a high court judge in Juba yesterday for the first time.
The two are among seven others who were arraigned before Judge Sumeya Saleh Abdallah.
Before today’s hearing, the South Sudan Civil Society Alliance broke the news that the two, and other detainees were expected to be charged on a range of offenses such as terrorism, banditry, insurgency, sabotage, violence and disorderly conduct in a public place.
Dr. Biar, an activist was arrested last year when he significantly became critical of the peace process and the government. Before his arrest, the President had warned the public against speaking ill of the Khartoum peace talks.
Kerbino, a businessman and also a Captain at the National Security was detained over unconfirmed reasons -months before he and other prisoners reportedly disarmed prison guards and temporarily took control of a section of the NSS headquarters.
Apart from Dr. Biar, Kerbino appeared before the judge as a businessman. The rest of the accused are mostly members of the national security, SSPDF, and the police.
Ajak Mayol Bior, the lead Defense Lawyer said the accused have received verbal charges under section 48, 67, 69, 72 and 78 of the Penal Code, and section 57 of the National Security Act.
He said these sections focus on terror, sabotage, and crimes against the state.
“We were asking that at least we [lawyers] will be given unhindered access. That has been granted, and we will have unhindered access still in the national security detention facilities,” Ajak said.
Ajak said the court also granted their clients access to proper medical treatment.
The judge, however, denied the release of the accused on bail or a transfer to a different detention facility.
“The condition [is] that there are some other cases pending on the particular accused [Peter Biar],” he added.
It is not clear what other charges have been labeled against Dr. Biar. It is also not clear under what circumstances have Biar, Kerbino and the 7 participated in terrorism, sabotage, and crimes against the state.
The other detainees who appeared in court today include; Dau Guer, Benjamin Gany, James Bol Akech, Simon Dau Makoi and Peter Albino who refused to be represented by a lawyer.
Members of the public who attended the court hearing were representatives of the civil society groups such as Rajab Muhandis.
The National Minister of Labor, James Hoth, who is Dr. Peter Biar’s father-in-law, was also in attendance.
The trial will begin on Monday next week -since this was just a hearing.
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