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MARTIAL COURT Orders deadline for witnesses

The military court martial has ordered the prosecutors to present all the witnesses in the next session or it will decide on the next step of action, said acting army spokesperson.

Yesterday the court adjourned the hearing because the witnesses were not available to testify before the court.

The court martial judge gave ten more days after the prosecutor requested that they be given time so that the doctors who did the testing of the rape victims would appear.

The next hearing will take place on the 21st of July, 2017. This came after the prosecutor requested the court to give him ten days to bring the doctor to the court because the doctor had travelled.

The prosecutor told the court that the doctor had travelled and will be back in the country after ten days.

Yesterday the proceedings were not able to move ahead because the prosecutor did not present to the court the witness that the court had requested during the fifth hearing.

Speaking after the short session, the acting army spokesperson Santo Domic Chol told Journalists that the court will decide what to do if the prosecutor does not present the witnesses to the court.

“This time we need everybody around so that we finalize the process of the case otherwise the court is going to decide,” Santo said.

Chol however did not mention specifically what the court will do if the prosecutor again does not produce the witness.

He admitted that the prosecution of the soldiers has now taken more than necessary.

Chol added that all the expectations are that the final ruling will be on the 21st July, 2017, adding that it is only the prosecution that is delaying the whole process.

The lawyer representing the rights groups, Phillip Anyang presented a petition to the court asking for a closed hearing for some witnesses who will be presented to the court.

Anyang said the victims are afraid of their lives and had to be protected; therefore the court session should be a closed one.

Though the defense lawyer insisted  that the hearing be open to the public, the presiding judge Brig. Gen. Knight Baryano Almass granted the request made by the lawyer asking for a closed session hearing of some three witnesses who are expected to give their account to the court.

Almass however said he considers the several request made by the prosecutor as a delay to the court proceedings.

The court martial also accepted to write to the ministry of Foreign Affairs so that the doctor will be allowed to come and testify before the court.

12 soldiers are currently appearing before the court mainly on charges of rape, murder and looting during the July 11 fighting last year when misunderstanding erupted between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to the then First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar.

 

 

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