South Sudan: Prominent activist sentenced to more prison time

Prominent South Sudanese activist and economist Peter Biar Ajak prepares to embrace his wife Nyathon Hoth Mai, left, as she weeps after he was sentenced to two years in prison, in a courtroom in the capital Juba, South Sudan Tuesday, June 11, 2019. Relatives wept as Ajak and five other men were sentenced for inciting an uprising in the country's main national security prison in October, while their lawyers vowed to appeal and Amnesty International said it had received reports of witness intimidation. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick)
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JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — A South Sudan court on Tuesday sentenced a prominent activist and economist to two years in prison after being accused of inciting an uprising behind bars in the capital, Juba.

Relatives wept as Peter Biar Ajak and five other men were sentenced. They were accused of causing chaos in the country’s main national security prison in October. Four men received five years in prison. Businessman and philanthropist Kerbino Agok Wol received 15 years after being accused of leading the uprising in which no one was hurt.

Lawyers for Ajak and Wol vowed to appeal. Amnesty International said it had received reports of intimidation of witnesses and defense lawyers.

“It’s a very controversial decision,” Philips Anyang Ngong, Ajak’s lawyer, told The Associated Press. His client also had been accused of giving an interview to an international media outlet during the uprising.

Each of the men originally landed in prison for different reasons. Ajak was arrested at the airport in the capital in July, leading to accusations from some in the international community that he had been unlawfully detained.

South Sudan’s government was meant to release all political detainees as part of a peace deal signed in September to end a five-year civil war. Not all have been freed.

SAM MEDNICK I Associated Press

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