South Sudan soldiers face trial for deadly hotel rampage
- Author: Leroy Wright May 31, 2017,
May 31, 2017, 19:06
South Sudan began a military trial Tuesday of 13 suspects accused of rape, murder and looting during a 2016 rampage at a hotel housing foreign aid workers.
"Five women working with humanitarian organizations were then raped".
The case was adjourned until 6 June.
"We expect the same as from any normal trial", said Michael Woodward, the British former manager of the Terrain and the only witness to testify Tuesday.
The trial is a test of South Sudan's ability to hold its soldiers accountable. "We want justice for the victims, compensation for what was looted and we want this to serve as an example for people who commit similar crimes".
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) now has 16,000 peacekeeping troops in the world's youngest country, where they have been fighting between government troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebels loyal to Kiir's former deputy Riek Machar. The assault came during fresh fighting in the capital, Juba, in July.
The three-year conflict has fractured South Sudan along ethnic lines - Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, Machar is a Nuer - and displaced a quarter of the 12 million population. 'The people who arrive are in a desperate state, poor health, exhausted for their travels, and traumatized by what they have seen and experienced, ' stated the director for Africa of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré.
About 137,000 South Sudanese have crossed into Sudan since January 1 - already more than the 131,000 that arrived during 2016, according to UNHCR.
Prosecutors said that the murderers face a minimum of 10 years in jail with a fine paid to the victim's family, or a maximum of the death penalty.
However, with the increased arrival of refuges, IFRC and SSRC are warning of an elevated risk of diseases such as malaria, as existing healthcare and water and sanitation services come under ever greater strain.
Pope Francis's proposed trip to South Sudan later this year has been postponed for security reasons. "There is every indication that the number of people crossing into Sudan will continue to climb", Nafo-Traore said.