A Catholic priest was among four people sentenced on Monday over the shooting of a bishop-elect in South Sudan.
A judge at the high court in the capital Juba issued the sentences on April 25 after Father John Mathiang Machol, Moris Sebit Ater, Laat Makur Agok, and Samuel Makir were found guilty of “participating directly or indirectly” in the attempted assassination of the now Bishop Christian Carlassare of Rumbek.
Justice Alexander Sebur Subek gave Father Mathiang a seven-year jail term in connection with the attack on the Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries, who was shot in both legs on April 26, 2021, reported ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.
Father Mathiang’s phone calls “before the crime were retrieved during a police investigation,” South Sudan’s Eye Radio reported on April 25.
The sentencing of Sebit and Laat was based on the evidence before the court that they “went with ammunition to shoot the bishop in his house” in the Diocese of Rumbek, according to the Catholic Radio Network.
Makir was given a five-year sentence after he was found guilty of “keeping two guns that were used for the attempted assassination and providing the assassins with Itel phone for communication,” the radio network in South Sudan said.
Defense lawyer Malith Mading announced that he would appeal the decision.
Carlassare responded to the sentencing on April 25, saying that he prayed for “conversion and healing.”
“On behalf of the Diocese of Rumbek, we acknowledge today’s verdict,” said the bishop, who was consecrated on March 25, more than a year after his appointment was first announced.
“We appreciate the commitment and dedication of the government and the court,” he said.
He continued: “Though sad for what has happened and the resulting sufferings, we pray that truth may bring conversion and healing,”.
“As a Church, we look forward with hope during this Easter time and remember Jesus’ call for forgiveness and unity.”
Pope Francis is expected to visit South Sudan on July 5-7, following a July 2-5 visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.