South Sudan court jails 10 soldiers for rape and murder

Court hands sentences ranging from seven years to life for raping aid workers and killing a local journalist.

South Sudan''s President Salva Kiir arrives to receive the dead body of army chief General James Ajongo Mawut, at Juba airport
The case was widely seen as a test of will by the government of President Kiir to bring accountability in the military [Samir Bol/Reuters]

A South Sudanese military court has handed out jail sentences to 10 soldiers for the rape of foreign aid workers and murder of a local journalist in 2016.

Eleven soldiers were on trial but one was set free due to the lack of charges against him.

In Thursday’s ruling, where the sentences handed down ranged from seven years to life, the court also ordered the government to pay damages to the victims.

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

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

Mike Woodward, manager of the Terrain Hotel where the attack happened, told a court last year that “between 50 to 100” soldiers arrived at the hotel in the afternoon and began looting an hour later.

“Five women working with humanitarian organisations were then raped. John Gatluak was shot at 6:15pm,” said Woodward.

Witnesses told Reuters news agency that victims phoned UN peacekeepers stationed a mile away and asked for help which did not arrive.

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

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies