South Sudan : decision to free two oppositions leaders

William John Endley, a South African national and an adviser to South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, sits in the dock, in the High Court in Juba, South Sudan, Feb. 23, 2018. Photo : Reuters

NEWSROOM (ADV) – South Sudanese authorities on Friday released two former high-ranking followers of rebel leader Riek Machar who were facing death sentences.

President Salva Kiir’s government had imprisoned former Machar spokesman James Gadtet and former Machar security adviser William John Endley on charges of treason and conspiracy.

The two men were smiling and appeared to be in good condition as they were released by guards at Juba National Security Headquarters.

Interior Minister Michael Chienjek said, “Their release comes as part of the peace [agreement] implementation.”

The Sept. 12 agreement requires the parties to release all political detainees and prisoners of war. Kiir said his administration was checking to see whether there were more detainees to be released.

Chienjek said he expected Gadtet to travel to Khartoum and that Endley would be deported to his native South Africa.

Security officials in Kenya arrested Gadtet two years ago and sent him to South Sudan. Endley was arrested in Juba in August 2016, days after government forces and Machar’s bodyguards renewed fighting.

Both men were first sentenced to 20 years in prison, then later were sentenced to death by hanging.

© Bur-csa – A.H / N.A – African Daily Voice (ADV)