Finance Minister’s accuser charged in court

By Kitab A Unango

A self-proclaimed journalist has been charged with defamation against the national Finance Minister, Salvatore Garang Mabirdit after being denounced by the Media Authority as a practice journalist in South Sudan.

The trial judge, Achok Chan said records obtained from the Media Authority to authenticate and verify the credibility of the accused who had earlier claimed to be a journalist turned out negative. The lawyer of the accused had earlier requested the court to allow the trial to be referred to the authority because of the accused’s profession.

Lawyer Issa Muzamil, who had earlier represented the accused sent a withdrawal request from the case, but the judge ruled that he had to appear in person to make the request in court. The accused engaged a new lawyer, Thiep Majok.

Zacharia Makuac was sued three months ago by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mobiordit over alleged articles that he said had placed him into public contempt.   

Makuac is charged with defamation under section 289 of the South Sudan Penal Court, 2008 which he pledged no guilty.

He was initially accused of breaking sections 289 and 291 of the South Sudan Penal Court, 2008 but was acquitted by the presiding judge early last month due to insufficient evidences.

The defendant lawyer of Zacharia who claimed to be a journalist applied for dropping criminal case against his client, and subsequently wrote to the media authority to resolve the matter as provided for by the media authority act, 2013.

Mackuac who brought another lawyer to defend him following the resignation of the previous lawyer last month, was told to present his old lawyer to resign in person before the presiding judge.

The proceeding was adjourned to July 7th next week for official resignation of Makuac’s lawyer and subsequently taking over by the new lawyer as well for the accused to defend himself.

According to Peter Dau Akoldit, Finance Minister’s Lawyer, Makuac had accused Garang Mabiordit of tribalism, corruption among others on both mainstreaming and social media.

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