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NSS urged to punish officers who cocked their guns at the high court

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The high court in Juba during the sentencing of Dr. Peter Biar, Kerbino Wol, and other convicts on June 11, 2019. PHOTO: Emmanuel Akile/Eye Radio

A lawyer is calling on the National Security Service to take disciplinary measures against officers who cocked their guns at the premises of the court, sparking fear and commotion on Tuesday.

Ajak Mayol said an officer deployed at the high court- in Juba during the sentencing of Peter Biar and Kerbino Wol -reportedly armed his gun when a lady tried to use her phone.

The judge had just concluded reading the verdict -sentencing Kerbino to 15 years and Biar to 2 years imprisonment.

Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/juba-court-sentences-biar-kerubino/

The action of the officer prompted more soldiers to cock their guns – causing commotion as people ran for cover.

Ajak said the incident amounts to intimidation and the violation of the “sanctity” and independence of the judiciary.

According to the South Sudan Penal Court, members of the armed forces are forbidden from disorderly conduct in public places, and it considers unauthorized disruption of a public gathering by an officer as an offense.

“A lady was just using her phone and that necessitated an officer to cock his gun, and threatened the whole environment and all of them did the same by cocking their guns,” Ajak told the press after the court ruling.

Section 223 of the Penal Code also notes that whoever makes any gesture or any preparation intending or knowing it to be likely that such gesture or preparation will cause any person present to apprehend that the person making it is about to use criminal force to that person, is said to commit an assault.

The incident forced Ajak to physically intervene in order to calm down the officers and facilitate the orderly departure of those who gathered at the court premises.

“This might have resulted into a shootout –which is really grave,” he said.

The National Security Service Act also says any service member who acts unsatisfactorily while performing his or her duty shall be reprimanded.

Ajak urges the national security service to hold the officers accountable for disorderly conduct, and threatening the exercise of the rule of law.

“I feel sympathize for individuals who continue to try to taint the image of the institution of the national security. This officer did not act on the instructions of the national security, but on his own accord,” Ajak said.

Accordingly, the National Security Service Act 2014 also cautions that; any service member who intentionally abuses, causes disturbance, nuisance or uses abusive words, gesture or design during session of a tribunal with intent of causing threat, disrespect, show of violence or disobedience; shall upon conviction be punished with imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or a fine, or with both.

“They should be held responsible for what happened, and they should never be led go,” Ajak concluded.

The lead defense lawyer for Kerbino Wol further said that they have always advocated for officers with guns to be stationed outside the court in order to avoid such incidences.

However, during court session armed police officers are often seen standing a few meters behind the presiding judges.

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