Judge to Give Ruling in Case of South Sudan Bishop-elect Shooting on His Ordination Day

Justice Alexander Sebur Subek reading out a decision of the High Court on 2 March 2022 session. Credit: Otto Abut/CRN

The ruling in the case of the shooting of the Bishop-elect for Rumbek Diocese in South Sudan is expected to be delivered on March 25, the same day Mons. Christian Carlassare is to be ordained Bishop.

“Two witnesses testified today before the high court in Juba,” a source told ACI Africa Monday, March 14.

At the end of the two testimonies, the source added, “The judge decided to announce the date for the announcement of judgment, which happens to be March 25.”

Abraham Matur Akot, one of the two witnesses during the March 14 hearing, denied claims one of the suspects had made that Fr. John Mathiang, also a suspect, had convened meetings to plot the shooting of the Bishop-elect.

On February 23, Laat Makur Agok who was identified as the last of the six suspects told the court that Fr. Mathiang, his co-accused, masterminded the plot to shoot Mons. Carlassare.


Mr. Makur gave details of how the Catholic Priest “convened multiple meetings with the assailants on how they could attack the Bishop-elect in order to scare him away and he (Fr. Mathiang) could take over the helm of the Diocese of Rumbek.”

During the March 14 hearing, Mr. Matur refuted Mr. Makur’s claims, saying that “Fr. Mathiang never held any meeting with those other accused to shoot the bishop”, a source who had followed the court session told ACI Africa.

“When the Bishop-elect arrived in Rumbek, it was Fr. John Mathiang who informed the Church … he was the one who welcomed him from the airport,” Mr. Matur is said to have told the court on March 14, adding, “Fr. Mathiang warmly welcomed the bishop-elect and toured in and out of Rumbek town, while visiting the churches and schools built by the Church.”

On his part, Mr. Makur dismissed Mr. Matur’s narrative, arguing that he (Mr. Matur) was defending Fr. Mathiang as his kinsman, as “their in-law”. 

After the shooting incident, Mr. Makur recalled, “it was Abraham (Matur) who said we should not reveal that we had several (planning) meetings with Fr. John Mathiang.” 

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Mr. Matur denied having any relations with “any of the accused including Fr. Mathiang,” a report obtained by ACI Africa following the March 14 hearing of the case that was first mentioned on January 26 indicates.

“Justice Sebur Subek is expected to submit the court file for the final verdict on 25th March 2022,” according to the report about the case that has seen one of the witnesses put Fr. Mathiang at the center of the 26 April 2021 shooting incident.

Earlier this month, two of the six suspects in the case were freed because of what the judge termed “lack of evidence against them.”

Mons. Carlassare was appointed Bishop for Rumbek on 8 March 2021. His Episcopal Ordination had initially been scheduled for Pentecost Sunday, 23 May 2021.

Last October, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, announced the postponement of Mons. Carlassare’s consecration “to 2022, at a date still to be determined.”


Last month, the Apostolic Administrator of Rumbek Diocese, Bishop Matthew Remijio, appointed a committee to prepare for the Episcopal Ordination of Mons. Carlassare.

“As we look forward to the return of Bishop-elect Christian to the Diocese of Rumbek, I have appointed a committee to prepare for his Ordination,” the Local Ordinary of South Sudan’s Wau Diocese said in his letter dated February 22.

Days later, he announced the rescheduled ordination event saying, “After due consultation with the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya and South Sudan and the Bishop elect, I am happy to announce to you the consecration of Bishop of Rumbek.”

“The Consecration of Bishop elect Fr Christian Calassare will take place on the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, 25th, March 2022 in Rumbek,” Bishop Remijio said in his March 1 letter.

Rumbek Diocese became vacant in July 2011 following the sudden death of Bishop Caesar Mazzolari, an Italian-born member of the Comboni Missionaries.

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Fr. Fernando Colombo, a confrere of the late Bishop, governed the South Sudanese Diocese as Diocesan Administrator until 27 December 2013, when Fernando Cardinal Filoni, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, appointed Fr. Mathiang Diocesan Coordinator.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.