South Sudan judge demands testimony from army rape survivors

2017-07-07 08:51
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Juba - The trial for rapes and murder allegedly committed by South Sudan army soldiers one year ago at the Terrain hotel could be jeopardised if the victims don't come forward to testify, said a military court on Thursday.

"I demand the names and presence of those who were raped to come here," said Deng Manyiel, one of four judges hearing the trial in its fifth day of hearings.

Head judge, Brigadier General Knight Briano, said that if the victims do not identify the accused, there is no legal way they can be convicted of rape or murder.

Twelve South Sudanese soldiers currently stand trial for the gang rapes of five foreign aid workers and the murder of one local journalist last July when fighting broke out in Juba, the capital. If convicted, the accused could face the death sentence.

To date however, witness testimony by four employees of the hotel, who identified four of the accused, has only pointed to charges of looting.

"There's a fear that the rapes and murder won't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," said Philips Anyang Ngong, a private prosecutor hired by Terrain.

Ngong partially blames the lack of convincing evidence on Internews, an international organization whose journalist was murdered and several members of their staff raped.

He said there's been a "complete failure to cooperate" on their part. The prosecution said it has been waiting for supporting documents from Internews that could help shore up the murder charge.

However Internews said it is cooperating with authorities. "We are following the proceedings and continuing to cooperate with government officials and the FBI," said a spokesperson for Internews.

The lead prosecutor told the court that the rape victims are coming "step by step," yet admitted that they still weren't "here yet." Survivors of the assaults say they're not going to testify unless they're guaranteed protection.

"We've been given no assurances or information on the procedures they have in place to facilitate witnesses coming forward," one of the survivors told AP. She said she's been in touch with the FBI who is acting as a liaison between the victims and the prosecution on the ground.

"Most of us are still uncomfortable about directly communicating with the South Sudanese," she said.

Amnesty International, which is following the trial, said the court should give assurances to the survivors.

"First, the court must take steps to protect the identity of the victims from becoming public, and second, it should explore using video conferencing for testimony and cross-examination," said Joanne mariner, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty. "Moreover, even without the testimony of the direct victims of rape, the perpetrators could be potentially convicted based on witness testimony - if not of rape specifically then at least of sexual assault."

Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/World
 

For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.

 
 

Paws

Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.