South Sudan court jails soldiers for aid workers rape, journalist murder

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South Sudanese soldiers wait for their verdict at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
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The verdicts for South Sudanese soldiers are announced at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
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South Sudanese soldiers wait for their verdict at the military court in Juba, South Sudan, on September 6, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 06 September 2018
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South Sudan court jails soldiers for aid workers rape, journalist murder

  • Ten soldiers were found guilty for their role in an attack on a Juba hotel.
  • Five foreign aid workers were gang-raped, and a journalist was killed in the attack.

JUBA: A South Sudan military court on Thursday found 10 soldiers guilty for their role in an attack on a Juba hotel in which five foreign aid workers were gang-raped, and a journalist was killed.
"The military court has found out that the accused... are guilty for their direct responsibilities in committing these crimes," said Judge Knight Baryano Almas, detailing charges of rape, murder, looting and destruction.
One suspect was acquitted while another, a military commander accused of overseeing the chilling attack, died in prison last October in what the army said was a "natural death".
After 31 trial sessions, two soldiers were sentenced to life in prison for the murder of local journalist John Gatluak, as well as rape and other crimes.
The others received sentences ranging from seven to 14 years for charges including rape, sexual harassment and looting.
Violence erupted in South Sudan's capital when a peace deal between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar collapsed in July 2016.
During the clashes, government forces rampaged through the Terrain hotel compound housing some 50 employees of foreign organisations.
In his evidence at the start of the trial, the hotel's British owner, Mike Woodward, said that "50 to 100 armed soldiers" broke into the compound.
"One group proceeded straight to the bar and restaurant while another group continued to the residential area," he said.
Woodward listed "the gang rape of at least five international women", the murder of a South Sudanese journalist, the shooting of a US aid worker and "the beating and torture of almost every person in the entire building", including mock executions, among the crimes allegedly committed at his hotel.
Woodward's testimony is supported by reports compiled by the UN and Human Rights Watch.
During the attack the aid workers made multiple appeals for help to nearby UN peacekeepers, which went unanswered.
A special UN investigation found that a lack of leadership in the UN mission - which has 13,000 uniformed personnel in South Sudan - culminated in a "chaotic and ineffective response" during the July fighting.
The force's Kenyan commander was sacked.
The court on Thursday ruled that South Sudan's government must pay compensation of $4,000 (3,440 euros) to each rape victim, and over $2 million to Woodward for damage to his property.
Gatluak's family will be compensated with 51 head of cattle.
 


Taliban target NATO convoy, killing 2 Afghan civilians

Updated 27 min 57 sec ago
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Taliban target NATO convoy, killing 2 Afghan civilians

  • At least two civilians killed in suicide bomber attack near Kabul
  • Taliban claim responsibility for the incident

KABUL, Afghanistan: Afghan and NATO officials say a bombing targeted a NATO convoy near the capital, Kabul. An Afghan spokeswoman says the attack involved a suicide bomber and killed at least two civilians.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Wahida Shakar, spokeswoman for the provincial governor in Parwan, says the attack took place late on Wednesday in Bagram district and that along with the two killed, at last three civilians were wounded. Bagram is located about 40 kilometers, or 24 miles, from Kabul and is also the home of a sprawling US military base.
NATO spokeswoman Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson says three service members were wounded in the bombing but didn’t provide more details.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid says an insurgent suicide bomber rammed his car into the convoy.