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

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.
 


UN chief will work with new Lebanon government on reforms

Updated 22 January 2020

UN chief will work with new Lebanon government on reforms

  • Guterres’ spokesperson said the United Nations was committed to supporting “Lebanon’s strengthening of its sovereignty, stability and political independence”
  • Lebanon formed a new government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab
BEIRUT: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the formation of a new Lebanese government on Tuesday and will work with the new premier to support reforms in the heavily indebted country grappling with an urgent economic crisis.
A statement issued by Guterres’ spokesperson also said the United Nations was committed to supporting “Lebanon’s strengthening of its sovereignty, stability and political independence.”
Lebanon formed a new government under Prime Minister Hassan Diab after the Shiite Hezbollah movement and its allies agreed on a cabinet after weeks of wrangling over portfolios.