BOR – A South Sudan journalist, Malek Gutnyin Gerwar, who previously worked as a manager of Radio Jonglei 95.9 FM, has on Monday been convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a high court in Jonglei State, according to Radio Tamazuj.
The radio station, which is based in the town of Bor, is an independent media outlet established in 2010 with equipment donated by the Christian Missionary Church.
Malek Gutnyin served as a station manager of the radio station from 2010 to 2018.
The presiding judge Justice John Yel Aleu told Radio Tamazuj on Monday that Mr. Malek Gutnyin was found guilty of a criminal breach of trust for claiming the ownership of the radio station.
“Today (Monday), the court issued its verdict on the Radio Jonglei case. The accused, who was a manager for the radio station, was convicted under Article 351 of the Penal Code 2008, which talks about the criminal breach of trust by a civil servant. Under Article 351, the convict will serve 10 years in prison,” Justice Yel said.
“Also, when he was the manager, he embezzled some money from the radio station’s bank account with which he bought a car registered in his name. The court ruled by giving the car ownership to the radio station and the convict shall also pay back the rest of the money, that is 186, 868 SSP and 69, 356 USD,” Justice Yel added.
Yel, who also serves as the president of the Jonglei High Court, said that the convict has been granted 15 days to appeal the court ruling.
Dut Mareu, a defense lawyer for the complainant in the case, said: “My client Rev. Tijwok Agwet brought the radio station to Bor under his ministry in 2010. He then appointed Malek as a station manager. In 2017 when my client was away, Malek claimed the ownership of the radio station.”
However, Melek’s defense lawyer Aleer Buot Mayen challenged the high court ruling, saying his client is innocent.
Buot said he will overturn the high court verdict at a court of appeals. “We are saying no breach had happened. The complainant has no rights over the radio station. My client has been running the station as a community radio for the benefit of the community, not his. As the defense, within three days we will apply for the appeal in Juba,” he said.