Life Sentences on Four Kenyans in South Sudan Too Harsh, Say Judges
Judges in South Sudan have questioned how four Kenyans convicted of simple fraud for life were imprisoned for life in South Sudan.
A decision made by the county’s appeal Judges and received by the relatives of the four Kenyans had three judges separately censure their juniors for imposing unreasonably harsh sentence on the Kenyans.
The four Kenyans together with 12 other South Sudanese residents were arrested in connection with alleged fraud in Office of the President of South Sudan. The suspects are said to have been involved in faking letters, forging seals and stamps that were recovered from a Juba-based firm the four worked for.
Although the appeal judges said that the charges were proven, they questioned the gravity of the sentences. “The sentence is a bit harsh and excessive in the circumstances of this case,” Justice Kukurlopita Marino Pitia, the President of the Court of Appeal of Greater Equitoria Circuit-Juba says.
In the ruling, their sentences were reduced to 12 years and significantly reduced the heavy collegiate fine imposed on them.
Another Judge, Justice Stephen Simon Bengingwa further questioned the manner in which the Judge at the lower court interpreted the entire case. “The trial judge in this case discussed the case generally without discussing the ingredients of the offenses in relation to the evidence provided, the accused were convicted generally without specifying acts or role of each accused in commission of the crime and the intention.” he said.
Meanwhile, the families of the quartet continue to leave in hope that their relatives will be released.
“This is our last thread of hope that our brothers will come back soon. We have tried everything else at our level and failed. We hope during the retrial our lawyers will turn the tide and secure their freedom,” Tejal Ghaghda, sister of Ravi told Sunday Standard.