The High Court in Juba has sentenced four men including a catholic priest to different jail terms for conspiring in the shooting of the catholic Bishop of Rumbek.
John Mathiang Machol, Moris Sebit Ater and Lat Makur Agok were found guilty of participating directly or indirectly in the attempted murder of then Bishop-elect Christian Carlassare.
In early March, Priest John Mathaing was charged with inciting and plotting against Bishop Calassare, while Laat Makur Agok and Moris Ater for executing the attack on the bishop, and another, Samuel Maker for hiding the crime exhibits.
Father John Mathiang was handed a seven-year jail term, while Samuel Makir was sentenced to five years.
Moris Sebit Ater and Lat Makur Agok were both sentenced to 4 years in Prison.
Carlassare, an Italian Comboni priest was shot twice in his legs by gunmen at his residence in Rumbek town of Lakes State, in April last year.
Following the incident, Police arrested 35 people in connection with the shooting- most of whom were released over lack of sufficient evidence.
The High Court Judge, Alexander Subek Samuel revealed that Mathiang and his associates were identified to have colluded in the assassination attempt of the Bishop.
His phone calls before the crime were retrieved during a police investigation.
The court found the three men guilty in accordance with articles 334 and 335 of the penal code act 2008.
Article 334 states that whoever commits house-breaking by night, having made preparation for causing injury to any person or for assaulting any person or for wrongfully restraining any person or for putting any person in fear of injury or of assault or of wrongful restraint, shall upon conviction be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years and may also be liable to a fine.
While Article 335 states that of during the commission of lurking house-trespass by night or house breaking by night, any offender voluntarily causes or attempts to cause death or grievous hurt to any person, every person jointly concerned in the commission of such lurking house-trespass by night or house breaking by night, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years and may also be liable to a fine.
Judge Alexander Subek Samuel read out the verdict on Monday: “The punishment and the final order. One, jail for convicts John Mathiang Machol, Morris Sebit Ater and Laat Makur Agok for seven years for their offenses of two articles 334 sub-article 4 and 335 of South Sudan penal code 2008. Two, jail for three convicts mentioned in the above provision for seven years for their offense of article 208 of South Sudan panel 2008.Three jail for convicts Morris Sebit Ater and Laat Makur Agok for their offenses for four years for their offenses on article 72 of South Sudan penal code of 2008, and that’s start as it’s their arrest in day one , the first accused in date 7TH May 2021 and the sixth accused on date 7Th June and 11Th June 2021 and Penalties apply sequentially.”
Reacting to the verdict, the defense lawyer, Malith Mading said he disagreed with the findings of the judge, citing what he termed as lack of concrete evidence in the sentencing of the defendants.
Mading said he will appeal the sentence within fifteen days.
“We agree with the decision but we disagree with the finding of the judge. The finding was not based on any law or any evidence as far as the law is concerned you cannot convict an accused person on evidence of another accused,” Mading said.
“This evidence was not presented by the prosecution team and as section Thirty-Four, of the evidence act, should have been applicable and if the judge has ignored it we have the right to appeal and we are going to appeal the decision.”
Carlassare, an Italian Comboni priest was elected on March 8, 2021 as the bishop of the Diocese of Rumbek.
He had spent months on treatment in Nairobi, Kenya before he was discharged and consecrated as the Bishop of Rumbek Diocese in March.
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