South Sudan says 16 accused in attack targeting Americans

2016-11-02 19:24

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Juba -  Eight people have been accused of rape and eight others accused of looting in a July rampage that targeted Americans at a South Sudan hotel popular with foreigners, the government announced Wednesday, but it was not clear how many are soldiers.

It was the first word of accountability in the attack on the Terrain hotel compound.

The Associated Press was the first to reveal details of the attack in which people were gang-raped, beaten, subjected to mock executions and forced to watch a local journalist be shot dead.

The announcement came a day after the United Nations made public its own investigation that found UN peacekeepers nearby did not respond to calls for help during the attack.

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South Sudan's deputy justice minister, Martison Oturomoi, told reporters that soldiers "exploited the war to do their own criminal acts." He cited soldiers raping women and killing the journalist, John Gatluak, based on his ethnicity.

The government has not yet publicly shared the report of its investigation into the attack, which came shortly after fighting erupted in the capital, Juba, between rival groups in the security forces.

The probe came after pressure from the United States.

Four of the six members of the investigative committee are from South Sudan's military or security forces, raising concerns about its impartiality. Oturomoi emphasized that the report by itself would not be enough to convict anyone.

The minister also said one woman was raped by 15 men during the attack but that it was "difficult for any person other than the victim to identify the offender."

The investigation recommended that the accusations be handled by a special court with military judges. Experts say South Sudanese law indicates that soldiers who commit crimes against civilians are required to be tried in a civilian court.

Read more on:    south sudan  |  east africa

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