By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has pardoned and ordered the release of 15 prisoners on the occasion of the 8th independence anniversary of the restive country in the Horn of Africa.
President Kiir announced the release of the detainees during his address to the nation at the Presidential Palace J1 on Tuesday.
The inmates to be released were detained in Juba, Wau, and Yambio among other towns.
“Because of this occasion of celebrating 8th independence anniversary, I have pardoned and released 15 inmates and their name will be read out by comrade Makuei,” said President Kiir.
But an entrepreneur Kerubino Wol Agok and a political activist, London based economist Peter Biar Ajak are not part of those pardoned by the president.
However, the country’s Information Minister Michael Makuei, who is also the government spokesperson, read out the names of those pardoned by the president, saying the prisoners would be released from various prisons in the country.
“In Juba central prison, you have Delta Justine Kenyi, Jackson Anip David, John Bosco Losimi, and Silah James Kumunan,” said the minister of information.
“In Wau Central Prison, you have Santino Chol Yai, Ayian Deng Athem, Marko Dut David, Yel Yel Mawein, Daniel Yol and David Dut Pualino.”
In Yambio Central Prison, there is only one person and that is James Anyiri John. In Twic State, you have Ayian Abiel, Ring Magok, Ayian Agok Magieth Deng and Ring Mabior Yom,” said Makuei.
Minister Makuei further asked the prison authorities to act on the presidential order.
“We say congratulation to them. Prison authorities should take necessary action for the release of these people,” said Makuei.
Perhaps, president Kiir’s moved was welcomed by South Sudanese, civil society organizations, observers and analysts, including the defense lawyers of Dr. Biar and Wol, but they are calling on president Kiir to extends further.
Philip Anyang Ngong, Defense lawyer for Dr. Peter Biar, said he welcomed the president Kiir’s decision to freed 15 prisoners across the country as a purely within his discretion but that should not be limited to only 15 prisoners.
“I want to appeal to the president to also activate his powers and release Peter Biar Ajak as a South Sudanese and an instrument of free press,” Anyang told Pan African Visions.
Month ago, the Juba high court finally sentenced to jail political activist Dr. Biar and entrepreneur Kerbino Wol to 2 and 15 years in prison respectively, following accusation that they threatened the security of the country.
The London based economist Dr. Biar was detained in July 2018, while businessman Kerbino was detained in April the same year. The Juba high court “did not charge Biar and Wol for the reasons they were first arrested but over an incident at the national security prison” last year when detainees allegedly took weapons and demobilized prison guards.
The Juba high court earlier dropped the treason, terrorism, undermining the government activities charges first against Biar and Wol, but convicted Dr. Biar for “breach of the peace” and of campaigning for the exit of president Kiir on foreign media over the peace agreement, whereas Mr. Wol convicted of masterminding subversive activities against president Kiir.
Last month, the defense lawyers of businessman, Kerbino Wol and political activist Peter Biar have made an appealed against the decision of the high court that sentenced their clients to prison.