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Prominent South Sudan activist pardoned but not yet freed

January 3, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 11, 2019 file photo, prominent South Sudanese activist and economist Peter Biar Ajak prepares to embrace his wife Nyathon Hoth Mai, left, as she weeps after he was sentenced to two years in prison, in a courtroom in the capital Juba, South Sudan. A lawyer said Friday, Jan 3, 2020 that the prominent South Sudan activist and economist has not been freed from prison despite being pardoned in a presidential decree. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick, File)
FILE - In this Tuesday, June 11, 2019 file photo, prominent South Sudanese activist and economist Peter Biar Ajak prepares to embrace his wife Nyathon Hoth Mai, left, as she weeps after he was sentenced to two years in prison, in a courtroom in the capital Juba, South Sudan. A lawyer said Friday, Jan 3, 2020 that the prominent South Sudan activist and economist has not been freed from prison despite being pardoned in a presidential decree. (AP Photo/Sam Mednick, File)

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — A lawyer says a prominent South Sudan activist and economist has not been freed from prison despite being pardoned in a presidential decree.

Ajak Mayol Bior said Friday that the decree issued Thursday evening must be implemented so Peter Biar Ajak can walk free.

Human rights groups and others had protested Ajak’s arrest in 2018 without government explanation. He was sentenced to two years in prison last year after being accused of inciting an uprising behind bars.

South Sudan’s justice and interior ministries were processing the presidential order pardoning some 30 inmates on Friday.

A relative of another pardoned inmate, businessman and philanthropist Kerbino Agok Wol, said family members had prepared to go to the prison to welcome him but waited in vain.

Younger brother Lazaro Akon Agok added he was happy about the pardon.

A court in June last year sentenced both men following accusations that they threatened the security of the state. Wol was accused of masterminding subversive activities against the government.

South Sudan was meant to free all political prisoners under a peace deal signed in September 2018 to end a five-year civil war that killed almost 400,000 people.