13 South S udan sol­diers face trial f or rape, mur­der

The Witness - - NEWS -

NAIROBI — Thir­teen South Su­danese sol­diers ac­cused of rap­ing five for­eign aid work­ers and killing their lo­cal col­league ap­peared be­fore a mil­i­tary court yes­ter­day, a case seen as a t est of the govern­ment’s abil­ity to try war crimes.

The at­tack, one of the worst on aid work­ers in South Su­dan’ s ci vil w ar, took place on July 11, 2016 as Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir’s troops won a three­day bat­tle in Juba over op­po­si­tion forces loyal to former vice pres­i­dent Riek Machar.

Wit­nesses told Reuters at the time that armed men at tacked the Ter­rain Ho­tel in the capit al J uba f or se ve­ral hours.

Vic­tims phoned UN peac ekeep­ers sta­tioned a mile away and begged for help, but none came, the witne sses said.

The mil­i­tary head of the UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion was fired and the po­lit­i­cal head re­signed over the in­ci­dent.

UN in­ves­ti­ga­tors and right s group have fre­quently ac­cused both the army and rebels of mur­der, tor­ture and rape since the civil war be­gan in 2013, and say the crimes al­most al­ways go un­pun­ished.

De­scrib­ing the in­ci­dent, the man­ager of the T er­rain Ho­tel, Mike Wood­ward, told the court that “be­tween 50 to 100” sol­diers ar­rived in the ho­tel in the af­ter­noon of July 11 and be­gan loot­ing an hour lat er.

“Five women work­ing with hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions were then raped. John G atluak w as shot at 6 .15 pm,” Wood­ward said.

Peter Malual, the def en­dants’ lawyer, dis­missed the charges, say­ing ev­i­dence pro­vided by Wood­ward was not suf­fi­cient to prove the alle gations.

“What I kno w the ar ea was un­der op­er­a­tion at the time and rebels were con­trol­ling the ar ea,” Malual said.

Court of­fi­cials said the trial w ould re­sume on J une 6. — R eu­ters.

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