South Supreme Airlines skips court hearing

South Supreme Airlines skips court hearing
A South Supreme Airline plane after crash in Wau in 2016 (photo credit: Facebook)

Malakia High Court has adjourned the hearing for a plane crash case after the defense lawyer for South Supreme Airlines failed to appear in court yesterday.

It was supposed to be the first hearing since the case was initiated after the March 2, 2021 plane crash involving Boeing HK-4274 belonging to South Supreme Airlines that killed 10 people on board.

The plane crashed after takeoff from an airstrip in Pieri town in Jonglei State.

The incident prompted President Salva Kiir to direct the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to suspend the operations of the airline until the cause of the accident is established.

In the same month, Ayii Duang Ayii, the owner of South Supreme Airlines, was quoted by local media promising the families of those who lost their dear ones in the plane crash compensations.

“South Supreme Airlines has comprehensive insurance recognized internationally.

The insurance company will compensate the families of those who died in the plane crash and will also compensate the plane that crashed,” Ayii said during the aftermath of the incident.

He further revealed that the airline was registered in the Gambia and that the airline was operating in South Sudan to offer services to the citizens.

However, yesterday, Monyluak Alor Kuol, the defense lawyer of the victims’ families, accused the company of failing to cooperate with the deceased families.

Nothing forthcoming

He said families of the deceased brought the matter to get justice for dear ones.

“Unfortunately, the company failed to show up, the South Supreme Airline was served with summon letter which they were supposed to honor today[Thursday] to submit their reply. So they did not come but the usual procedure is that it is the first time, the court normally gives the benefit of the doubt.

“They are given another summon until next Thursday, which is exactly one week from now [yesterday] to receive their complaints. If they do not turn up then the court can proceed to hear our side,” Advocate Kuol stated.

He said aircraft all over the world are governed by conventions of laws which now imply that the company is required to honor the compensation call. 

Kuol added that it was not the families’ own making but it was the company’s reluctance that forced the former to go to court.

“We gave them notice a long time ago but the company did not reply. The purpose of the notice was to seek for resettlement between two parties to reach a peaceful solution but nothing to show from the company.”     

John Kiel Mayoul, who also lost his wife in the incident, said he was disappointed to see the South Supreme Airlines failing to turn up for the first hearing of the case.

However, he said they have left everything to the court to follow the necessary procedures to make its final ruling on the matter.

“The South Supreme Airlines did not come to meet us even [to offer a mere] condolence message to the family members. We only hear the owner of the company Ayii on media, we organized the funeral prayers on our own, we have not seen him. That made us go to court,” Kiel said.  

On May 5, 2021, the families of the deceased demanded compensation for dear ones from the company after waiting for months without getting any information from South Supreme Airlines.

“As the victims’ families, we would like to extend our gratitude to President Salva Kiir for abolishing further flights with South Supreme Airlines and we express our appreciation to the First Vice President for allowing the remains of my father, co-pilot to be recovered,” Nyabec Majur Malou, a daughter to the deceased pilot, told reporters in Juba.

“Condolences would have been enough but with the evidence provided and the international laws that were disregarded, our only wish is the call for justice not only for those who perished but to the families as well.”

South Sudan has seen several planes crash since independence. In August 2020, eight people lost their lives and only one person survived with injuries when a cargo plane crashed into a farm in the Kemeru area minutes after it took off from the Juba International Airport.

In 2015, 36 people were killed when a Soviet-era Antonov plane crashed just after takeoff from Juba.

In 2017, 37 people had a miraculous escape after the South Supreme Airlines plane hit a fire truck on a runway in Wau before bursting into flames. Meanwhile, 19 people were killed in 2018 when a small aircraft carrying passengers from Juba to Yirol crashed.