Dr. James Okuk to appear in court for criticizing President Kiir

Juba, April 24, 2012 (SSNA) — Dr. James Okuk, one of South Sudan’s best known scholars, will appear in a Juba county court before the judge on April 26, 2012. In a short handwritten letter by the court to Dr. Okuk, seen by the South Sudan News agency, the court ordered him to appear before the judge to hear the charges brought against him.

“It is hereby requested that you appear in front of Justice Deng Abdallah in Juba County Court on Thursday, 26/4/2012, at Eleven O’clock in the morning,” the letter said.

The handwritten letter bears the seal of Juba court police and is signed by a court officer.

It seems apparent that this legal battle is connected to his previous arrest in 2011. On October 21, 2011, Dr. Okuk was picked up by government agents who call themselves ‘CIDs and Security agents’. He was imprisoned there for almost two weeks. During his detention, police Investigators repeatedly told him that he was arrested because he had criticized President Salva Kiir in his writings. Dr. Okuk was released on bail on November 2, 2011.

Freedom of speech is one of the main factors that the current South Sudan political leaders fought for when South Sudan was still under Khartoum control. But journalists and writers still face ‘systematic torture and unwarranted detention’ for expressing their opinions.

Unfortunately, Dr. Okuk’s legal problem reemerges at a critical and sensitive time, when the nation is at war with its historical enemy, the Republic of Sudan.

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