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Sudan: Kiir Orders Military Trial Over Killing of Citizens
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Dec 30, 2009 - 9:14:06 AM

The Nation (Nairobi)

Sudan: Kiir Orders Military Trial Over Killing of Citizens

Lucas Barasa

30 December 2009

Nairobi Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir has ordered a soldier suspected to have killed three Kenyans in Juba to be tried by the military as it emerged the deaths could be business related.

The directive came as Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Liaison office in Kenya confirmed the suspect was a sergeant at Sudan People Liberation Army unit in Mapel.

Goss Head of Mission in Kenya, John Andruga Duku said in Nairobi Mr Kiir had constituted a General Court Marshall to try the officer.

Three Kenyans were killed by a lone gun man and two others critically injured in Juba on Monday.

On Wednesday, Mr Duku told the Nation at his office that the military trial is expected to be faster than civilian court process and appealed to "our brothers and sisters in Kenya to look at the incident as an isolated case."

"The crime is unacceptable. There's no justification of such crime. The President has directed that Kenyans in southern Sudan and population in Kenya that the situation should not be misinterpreted as a deterioration of insecurity and that they have no reason to fear."

Mr Duku said investigations indicate that the soldier was known to a woman who is among those who died and that they were business partners.

The sergeant , he said, opened fire on the woman and that the others who died and those injured were caught up in the melee.

Mr Duku confirmed that eight bodies of Kenyans were lying at a mortuary in Juba on Monday but not all of them were victims of gun attack.

Two Kenyans, he said, died of malaria, a similar number died in a road accident while one drowned.

The representative said the southern Sudanese military had already visited the scene where Kenyans were attacked and the hospital where they interviewed survivors.

"The lone officer knew his victim, the lady, were friends and even business partners but details of the attack are still under investigations. The rest of the Kenyans just happened to be on site at wrong time. But whatever the disagreement, it does not justify criminal act. We can't condone or get excuses for the attacks" he said.

He said plans were underway for southern Sudan army to "talk to Kenyans in Juba and assure them that the security situation was an isolated incident.

On complaints by Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang'ula over harassment of Kenyans in southern Sudan and destruction of their business premises, Mr Duku said: "Those are isolated cases. We have no policy of harassing Kenyans."

Mr Duku said only a petrol station belonging to a Kenyan of Somali descent built near the airport was demolished for security reasons in an exercise that affected even Sudanese.

He said even in Kenya Sudanese have fallen victims to criminal attacks including killing of a university student two weeks ago but the Kenyan government was not blamed as they were criminal attacks.

Saying there were more than 70,000 Kenyans working in southern Sudan, Mr Duku emphasized that they were crucial for the country's economic development and there was no reason to harass them.

He however regretted that some Kenyans entered business deals with Sudanese people without following proper channels only to blame it government when problems occurred.

Some Kenyans, he added, also took contracts only to disappear after being paid deposits.

He advised Kenyans wishing to work or do business in southern Sudan to fast contact the liaison office in Nairobi, state their plans and be guided on proper procedure.

"We don't object to Kenyans going to southern Sudan, but when their private arrangements go wrong they should not blame us. They should document every business deals they make so that they could seek legal redress when things go wrong," Mr Duku said.

He said southern Sudanese people felt part of east Africa due to geographical and cultural situation and stability in the semi-autonomous country also meant stability in Kenya.

Saying most of goods consumed in southern Sudan comes from Kenya, he asked: "How can you bite the hand that feeds you."

Meanwhile, Mr Duku said the world should not be deceived by the passing of a law on referendum by Sudan Parliament on Tuesday.

"That is just a step. The problem is implementation," he said and called on Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to convene an special meeting to push Sudan to fully implement a Comprehensive Peace Agreement that helped end 21 years of war in Africa's biggest country.

He said the fact that the Abyei border arbitration ruling by the court in the Hague had not been implemented and that the National Congress Party (NCP) still wanted to change the ruling showed passing of the referendum law did not mean much.

Mr Duku said President Bashir's NCP had further passed a controversial security law that if implemented could be used to clamp down on political opponents and gag the media.

He said the dates set for presidential and parliamentary nominations ahead of April elections were also too near and that it was meant to lock some people from participating in the polls.

The Sudan National Election Commission says the nominations should be held between January 12 and January 22.

Mr Duku questioned what will be used to determine constituencies in the south as his SPLM had rejected national census results.

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