Trial of soldiers accused of 2016 hotel rampage begins in South Sudan

South Sudanese citizens arrive at a United Nations compound to escape fighting between rebels and the government army. A trial of 13 South Sudanese soldiers, accused of rape, murder and looting at a Juba hotel in 2016, began on Tuesday. File Photo by Julio Brathwaite/UN/UPI

May 31 (UPI) — South Sudan began a military trial Tuesday of 13 suspects accused of rape, murder and looting during a 2016 rampage at a hotel housing foreign aid workers.

The South Sudanese Army soldiers were allegedly among 50 to 100 soldiers who overpowered security agents of the Terrain hotel in the capital, Juba, on July 11, 2016, as clashes between the army and rebel forces occurred in the city. The testimony of hotel manager Michael Woodward indicated the soldiers raped women, looted property and killed a local journalist because of his Nuer ethnicity during the 72 hours they spent at the hotel.

The rampage at the hotel, where the majority of guests were aid workers from foreign countries, resulted in a United Nations report accusing army peacekeepers of failing to protect civilians.

Although victims gave harrowing reports of their ordeal to news agencies, Woodward was the only person testifying in court. After his testimony the trial adjourned until June 6.

Defense lawyers say the hotel was in a rebel-held part of Juba, suggesting government troops could not have been involved. The hotel incident came during three days of fighting in which at least 73 people were killed throughout the city.


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