Soldiers sentenced to jail for murder, rape in 2016 hotel raid

Posted by News Express | 6 September 2018 | 843 times

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A South Sudanese military court on Thursday sentenced 10 soldiers to prison for the rape of foreign aid workers and the murder of a journalist in a brutal assault on a hotel in Juba, and ordered the government to pay compensation to the victims.

The attack, one of the worst on aid workers in South Sudan’s civil war, took place on July 11, 2016, as President Salva Kiir’s troops won a three-day battle in the capital over opposition forces loyal to ex-Vice President Riek Machar.

Witness accounts said that armed men attacked the Terrain Hotel for several hours, during which victims phoned U.N. peacekeepers stationed a mile away and begged for help, in vain.

The military head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission, Kenyan Lieutenant General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, was fired over the incident.

The court case was widely seen as a test of will by the government of President Salva Kiir to bring accountability in the military that has long drawn accusations of widespread rights violations and a culture of impunity.

A lawyer for the five rape victims said the verdict was not harsh enough, while rights group Amnesty International called it a first step toward fighting impunity in the war-torn country.

Ten soldiers were handed sentences ranging from seven years to life imprisonment. Eleven were on trial but one was set free due to the lack of charges against him.

“The military court found that the accused here are guilty for their direct responsibility in committing crimes,” said the head of the military court, Brigadier General Neath Almaz Juma, when reading the verdict.

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

“Five women working with humanitarian organizations were then raped. John Gatluak was shot at 6:15 p.m.,” Woodward said, referring to the South Sudanese journalist who was killed. An American was also shot in the leg, he said.

 •A South Sudanese soldier is checked as he arrives for a sentencing over the rape of foreign aid workers and the murder of a local journalist in an assault on the Terrain Hotel in the capital Juba in 2016 at a military court in Juba, South Sudan, September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu.

Source: News Express

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