Feb 11, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — A South Sudanese General, Maj. Gen. Stephen Buay Rolnyang, may not appear in the General Court Martial(GCM) tomorrow despite an adjournment last Thursday that expects him to appear in Court on February 12, 2019.
On the second day of hearing on Thursday, February 7th, 2019, the defense lawyers of Maj. Gen. Buay walked out of the GCM after the Court Martial dismissed all their submissions during the first hearing on Monday, February 4th.
On February 4th, the Defense Lawyers raised the following issues in reference to South Sudan Transitional Constitution(2011) and the SPLA Act, 2009:
- The jurisdiction of the Court Martial
- The formation/Procedures of the Panel/Court
- The membership of the panel
In their submissions, before they walked out in both occasions, the defense lawyers argued that the court was wrongly constituted as provided for by the laws of South Sudan and citing Sect 35, article 4 of the SPLA Act, 2009 which states:
‘..In all cases, the presiding officer shall be senior in rank to the accused and all members of the panel shall be at least equivalent in rank to that of the accused..’
The formation of the Court Martial, which was recommended by the CDF Gabriel Jok Riak and seen by President Kiir, the C-in-C, only designated a Maj. General to lead the GCM and the rest of the members were of lower ranks.
“Honorable lordships, the tribunal/General Court Martial in question is being headed or presided over by a Major General who is of equal rank with the Appellant, a Major General and that draws more legal questions as to the mandate, legality and the competence of the persons in the Tribunal, a clear violations of the legal provision established by the SPLA Act, 2009″ The Defense Lawyers argued.
The Defense also cited Section 36 and 41(1) of the SPLA Act, 2009 which provides for the right to object the formation or members of the panel of the GCM; however, in response the Court Martial ruled their objections as irrelevant and demanded that the Court was to proceed on Thursday. The GCM presented their arguments as follow:
- That the General Court Martial on the objection of the panel ruled to proceed on the basis it was irrelevant.
- That the General court martial, denied all the objections made by the defense lawyers instead chose to proceed with the trial on the basis it’s a preliminary session.
- That the General Court martial insinuated that the objections raised by the defense were irrelevant and couldn’t stop the proceeding of the trial or hearing of the prosecutions case.
- That the court convened to proceed despite the legal issues that are subject in the objections of the defense team.
In response, the Defense Lawyers walked out of the Court and the GCM adjourned the hearing to tomorrow, Tuesday 12, 2019; however, the case has been submitted to the High Court for Appeal and it is still in review pending a response from the Chief Justice.
In addition, the GCM is also in consultation with the CDF Jok Riak who is likely to consult the Commander-in-Chief, President Salva Kiir.
According to political analysts, the Commander-in-Chief did not sign during the formation of the GCM, which could be interpreted “as playing dirty along tribal lines” in comparison to the case of Gen, Paul Malong Awan where the Jieng Council of Elders where involved in mediation.
In response either the president or the Chief Justice may form the panel, send the files back for proper formation of the panel(in case of Chief Justice) or both could dismiss the case.
Stay tune for more updates to follow!