Advertisement

One Suspect Confesses to Crime of Shooting Bishop-elect for Rumbek Diocese in South Sudan

Bishop-elect for South Sudan's Rumbek Diocese, Mons. Christian Carlassare. Credit: Fondazione CESAR

One of the six suspects in the case of the shooting of the Bishop-elect for the Catholic Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan has confessed to the crime.

In a Thursday, February 3 report by the Catholic Radio Network CRN, the presiding judge in the case that was first mentioned on January 26 at the High Court in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, provides a highlight of the second mention.

“Only one person confessed that he was the one who shot the Bishop,” Justice Alexander Sebur Subek has been quoted as telling journalists in Juba shortly after the February 3 court session.

Justice Subek is said to have provided the identity of the suspect who confessed to the shooting of Mons. Christian Carlassare April last year, identifying him by one name, Sebit, and as “accused number five”.

He described the February 3 session as part of the preliminary hearing during which suspects are “asked whether guilty or not and the verdicts will be passed later.”

Advertisement

“This is called the opening statement of the prosecution and reply of the accused to the statement; this is what has been done today,” Justice Subek is quoted as telling journalists in Juba February 3.

The next hearing of the case, he said, has been scheduled for Monday, February 7.

In the February 3 CRN report, the lawyer defending the six suspects who include Fr. John Mathiang of Rumbek Diocese, advocates for the speeding up of the case, and “justice to prevail.”

“We need justice to prevail; the case should be speeded up and the accused to be availed fair and free trial”, CRN has quoted Malith Jok Thiang as saying about the case.

Mons. Carlassare was shot in both legs on April 26 last year. He received initial treatment at the health facility under the auspices of Doctors with Africa CUAMM in Rumbek and later airlifted to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, where he was admitted at The Nairobi Hospital.

More in Africa

In an ACI Africa video recording from his hospital bed on April 27, the Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries (MCCJ) described the shooting as life-threatening but called for reconciliation and “justice with the same heart of God” among the people of God in Rumbek Diocese.

In June last year, police in South Sudan’s Lakes State arrested the second of “the potential suspects” directly involved in the shooting of the Bishop-elect.

Arrested on 11 June 2021, the suspect brought the number of those detained following the April 26 early morning shooting to six individuals.

Before his Episcopal appointment on 8 March 2021, Mons. Carlassare had ministered in South Sudan’s Malakal Diocese since his arrival in the country in 2005. His episcopal ordination had been scheduled to take place on Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2021.

In an interview with ACI Africa a day after he had been shot, Mons. Carlassare recalled advocating for “forgiveness that is not just being naïve”.

Advertisement

The Bishop-elect “called to the government and the community and all the people of Rumbek asking for forgiveness: to forgive those that committed this act, forgiveness that is not just being naive and leaving aside errors but correct errors not with violence, but with dialogue and forgiveness," he said during the 27 April 2021 interview.

He added, "I feel that the community of Rumbek needs much forgiveness to be able to dialogue and to come together.”

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Matthew Remijio of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese as the Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek Diocese on 5 May 2021 with the mandate to temporarily govern the Diocese until the Bishop-elect is “healed, ordained and takes over the governance of that Diocese.”

Fr. Mathiang, one of the six suspects in the ongoing case, had been at the helm of Rumbek Diocese as Diocesan Coordinator since 27 December 2013.