Let That Great Tree Grow: Free James Gatdet Dak from Jail (Part 2)          

Posted: April 3, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan, Mayen Ayarbior

By David Mayen Dengdit, Colorado, USA

Please find a link to my part one interview with John Tanza of VOA South Sudan in Focus. The link is here:  https://www.voanews.com/a/4328979.html


James Gatdet Dak, former IO spokesperson of Dr. Riek Machar, who is currently sentenced to death for treason and serving jail time in Juba, South Sudan

April 3, 2018 (SSB) — In the previous article I called on my good friend James Gatdet Dak to be released from detention. I will continue to base my argument on that the cross he is carrying is not his; but is for his boss Dr. Riek Machar Teny, for whom he worked as Press Secretary/Spokesman up to the time of his controversial extradition from Nairobi.

As I proceed with my contentions, I hope to objectively contribute to the already widespread public arguments and debates related to this case. I also hope that we debate this legal case logically, without the bitterness which has been characterizing all differences of opinions in the country.

I called his case a travesty of justice because the death sentence given to him was premised on a charge of treason. By its very nature, treason is a charge which presupposes the existence of a strong relationship of trust between the President and loyal citizens (civilians or soldiers- often employees in the Presidency, government, or the security sector) who plot to kill him or her. It implies a dangerous betrayal of that trust relationship.

At the time of his extradition and trial by a Kangaroo court in Juba, Gatdet was not loyal to H.E. President Kiir. In fact, he belonged to a camp (SPLM/A- IO Main Stream) which professed an intention to overthrow the President by a combination of all means political and military. There was no betrayal of trust therein whatsoever at the time of Gatdet’s actions.

In addition to that legal argument in defense of that potentially great leader (James Gatdet), it is an absurdity that the same sentence of “treason” was not brought against Dr. Riek Machar Teny, H.E. Taban Deng Gai, Mrs. Angelina Teny, Hon. Alfred Lado Gore, Hon. Dhieu Mathok Diing and many others who not only professed their intention to overthrow President Kiir, but led military attacks against the sovereign.

I called the court which sentenced Gatdet a Kangaroo court because it has not only used the charge of treason politically and selectively (against one person in a civil war); it also endorsed a political charge that was decided in political offices rather than in courtrooms. Such Kangaroo courts were used by Edi Amin Dada, “Emperor” Bukasa, and many other dictators to give the perception of legality to their actions against opponents.

We must know that the criminal justice system can operate even in an environment where there is no rule of law. The rule of law is like a knife: you can use it for murder as-well-as for beneficial surgery to save lives. We should not allow our “rule of law” to be used for murder.

In addition to that argument, it is a charade to see a “peace delegation” sent to negotiate “peace” with the same armed resistance group to which Gatdet belongs. The only reason why peace, cessations of hostilities and ceasefires can be possible is because charges of “treason” have not been brought to the negotiating table against members of the IO delegation in Addis –  even if they were, they would be dropped to facilitate negotiations.

Members of IO delegation may include some who mutinied in 2013 and committed war crimes against innocent civilians in Bor, Bentiu and Malakal. Those acts were more treasonous than what Gatdet did, yet the government delegation is ready to sit and dine with those war criminals, while leaving Gatdet behind in Jail in Juba facing the death penalty.

I will be the first to pull the noose on my good friend Gatdet’s neck if I get convinced that he faced a fair trial before a competent court of law. In our case, the only competent court of law the people are eager to see setup and operational is the Hybrid Court for South Sudan whose statue was recently approved by our own council of Ministers.

Any other court may not be impartial in relation to the current destruction of South Sudan. Thus, I call on the legal officers in the Presidency and the two Justices Kurbandi and Majuk, in particular, to live up to the values enshrined this great legal profession, and give the president the right legal advice with regard to this Kangaroo proceedings.

Let the president not be misled about such legal proceeding so that he does not allow the two IO factions settle their own scores in his Office. I call on H.E. President Kiir to use his power of incumbency to stay the proceedings in this case and order release of Gatdet from prison. It will make him look like a peacemaker.

May the souls of all those who have died in this senseless civil war of brother against brother rest in peace. Let God install forgiveness in our hearts so that those who are still alive are saved. We have all sinned against South Sudan; let no one point to the speck on eyes of his brother.

I rest my case for now.

David Mayen Dengdit is a South Sudanese commentator who can be reached at mayen.ayarbior@gmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël website (SSB) do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

  1. Weniyn says:

    Well said. Everyone is entitled to defend or be defended in the court of law. And I think James Gatdet chances are slim. Agreeably, he was zonked by Riak Machar. Now the problem is his track records of media briefings, which contain enumerable and verifiable facts that are damnable. He basically has No math skills to see the outcomes for his actions. While James Gatdet was traveling, gorging himself with his buddies in Nirobi’s high-end hotels and restaurants, his rebels of whom he was the mouthpiece, were leaving dead bodies of little ones, older and young people out in the muddy fields to rot and be scavanged
    By wild beast and fowls of the air. If per adventure, he walks out of the court unscathed, it is to allow a dangerous precedent; Mobs vigilante justice. A little common sense can remedy these things before the flare up.


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