South Sudan rebel spokesman James Gatdet Dak was sentenced to death by hanging for treason on Monday, a year after he was deported from Kenya despite having refugee status.
"Death sentence by hanging," Judge Ladu Armenio told Gatdet in the court in Juba, after he was found guilty of treason and other crimes against the state.
The sentencing comes as peace talks between the government and rebels, taking place in neighbouring Ethiopia, stall amid mutual accusations of military assaults.
Gatdet, a former journalist, was also handed jail sentences totalling 21 years, which he is expected to serve before his execution.
He has insisted he is innocent.Gatdet had fled to neighbouring Kenya where he had been granted refugee status. He was deported back to South Sudan in November 2016 against international law.
His deportation came after he said he welcomed the UN's sacking of its peacekeeping force commander, a Kenyan general, who had been accused of failing to protect civilians.
The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said at the time it was "deeply concerned" about the fate of Gatdet and that its efforts to stop his forced return had been ignored.
South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, but a little over two years later its leaders began a fresh civil war pitting President Salva Kiir against his former deputy Riek Machar.
Tens of thousands have been killed in the violence, and nearly four million people -- roughly a third of the population -- have been forced to flee their homes.
Gatdet's lawyers pulled out of the trial last month, arguing that he should have been released as part of a December peace deal in which government and rebels agreed to release of prisoners of war and political detainees.
Fighting has continued despite the December agreement, the latest in a string of deals since war erupted in December 2013.
The latest round of peace talks began in Ethiopia last week, amid growing international impatience with the warring leaders.
Meetings stalled on Monday when both sides accused the other of attacking their forces.Ceasefire monitors said Monday they were heading to the flashpoint of Nasir in the far east of the country to investigate the fighting.
Newer news items:
- Oxfam Faces South Sudan Abuse Claim as Sex Scandal Widens - 13/02/2018
- South Sudan Bulldozes Houses in Bor; Residents Flee Fighting in Yei River - 13/02/2018
- South African advisor to South Sudan rebels could face death penalty - 13/02/2018
- South Sudan rebels seek help to quash Machar's spokesman death penalty - 13/02/2018
- South Sudan Cracking Down on Black Market Money Changers - 12/02/2018
Older news items:
- South Sudan: Govt Objects to Rules for Peace Talks - 12/02/2018
- South Sudan Peace Talks Stall As Govt Rejects Liability Clause - 11/02/2018
- South Sudan parties begin talks on pre-transitional period - 10/02/2018
- South Sudan’s Alek Wek Is The First Model To Influence The Fashion Industry With Her Dark Excellence - 10/02/2018
- South Sudan Government Objects to Rules for Peace Talks - 09/02/2018
Popular news items:
- No oil in troubled waters - 25/03/2014 - Read 18852 times
- Former Lost Boy Gives Back to South Sudan - Care2.com (blog) - 31/05/2012 - Read 14235 times
- School exam results in South Sudan show decline - Bikya Masr - 01/04/2012 - Read 14104 times
- NDSU student from South Sudan receives scholarship - In-Forum - 29/09/2012 - Read 13568 times
- With prisons full, South Sudan to introduce mobile courts to clear backlog of ... - Washington Post - 11/10/2012 - Read 11479 times