Sixteen people in South Sudan, including 10 aides to President Salva Kiir, were charged with forgery and the theft of $15 million from his office, a court document shows.
The accused, who also include a central bank employee, a member of staff from the Finance Ministry and four Kenyan nationals, appeared Monday before the High Court in the capital, Juba. Judge Lado Armeno set bail for each at the $14 million and 30 million South Sudanese pounds (about $1 million) they’re collectively accused of stealing, according to Reech Ring, a lawyer representing two of the defendants.
“My clients have no capacity to deposit this amount in the court so they will remain in custody,” Ring said by phone. Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said he’s aware of the case and it’s up to the court to find the accused innocent or guilty.
South Sudan is mired in a 26-month civil war that’s left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million others to flee their homes. The conflict has only worsened living conditions for one of the world’s poorest nations, where there are almost no paved roads outside Juba and at least half the population of 12 million lives in poverty.