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Abii land dispute: Jonglei court issues final verdict


Abii land dispute: Jonglei court issues final verdict

A High Court in the Jonglei State capital, Bor town Friday last week found 78 defendants guilty of involvement and or incitement during clashes over a disputed village at the southern outskirts of the town along the Juba-Bor road three years ago.

The clashes over ownership and naming of a village along the Nile in Bor County’s Kolnyang Payam started in December 2017 and resumed in February 2018. One group fought to retain the name of the village as Panwel while the other group wanted it renamed Anuet.

The fighting involved four clans of the Abii community. The Nyara clan fought against the Nyichak, Biong, and Mach-Ayiel clans. About 38 people were killed, 26 injured, and villages torched to ashes during the inter-communal violence.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Monday in Bor town, Justice John Yel Aleu, the presiding judge, said: “The Court started hearing the case in 2019. Following the incidents, police arrested 113 suspects from both sides for taking part in the fighting. The case was being heard for two years and on Friday 30th April 2021 the final verdict was passed.”

He continued, “35 men were freed because no evidence was found against them, and 57 others were slapped with imprisonment terms, ranging from 6 months to 3 years, while the rest were fined 100,000 SSP each. Thon Majok convicted of orchestrating the 7th and 8th February clashes has been sentenced to death.”

Justice Yel, who also serves as the president of the Jonglei High Court, said those killed or injured during the clashes will be compensated.

“Group A in the case, Nyara, lost 19 people and Group B is known as Mach-Ayiel, Nyichak, and Biong also lost 19 people. So, the 38 killed will be compensated with 51 cows each. And the injured 26 will be compensated, depending on their wounds. Group A will compensate for Group B and vice-versa,” he added.

The High Court official pointed out that the verdict was based on Sections 210/5 and 53 of the Penal Code Act, 2008.

“On the area name, the court rules that the area shall be called Abii. All those not satisfied with the judgments have 15 days to appeal,” he added.

However, Abednego Yak, one of the Group A lawyers said the court ruling was biased towards its clients.

“The case we were handling was a criminal case. It was about why the 38 people were killed from both sides, and how they could be compensated. So, the reason John Yel came up with a decision on land is unknown. The second ground of our dissatisfaction is that the court sentenced most convicts to up to 2 years in jail starting April 29 without considering the term spent from the first day they were arrested. Now, the last reason is that Thon Majok of our side is the only one convicted to death on no grounds,” he said.

Yak said the defense team will decide on their next course of action before the 15 days for appeal period elapses.

Several attempts to reach Michael Mayen Maker, a lawyer representing Group B for comments on the ruling were futile.

For his part, David Garang Goc of the Jonglei Civil Society Network welcomed the ruling as a settlement to the land dispute, saying it would pave the way for the peaceful co-existence among the Abii community.

Via Radiotamjuz. Com


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