Military Court to Deliver Verdicts on Jailed Terrain Attack Suspects
A military court in South Sudan has finally announced the trial of the Terrain Attack Suspects who were accused of gang-raping foreign aid workers and murdering a journalist. The incident took place back in 2016 in Juba when the country was jolted by drastic violence in the wake of a skirmish between President Kiir’s loyalists and soldiers who sided with the vice-president, Riek Machar.
It seemed that an all-out civil war was coming home again, after its onset in 2013 where both rebels and soldiers were involved in ruthless murder and torture. The civil war has divided the entire country along ethnic lines with the President belonging to the ethnic Dinka while the vice-president being a Nuer.
Several war crimes since the onset have mostly gone unpunished, as claimed by UN investigators and other rights groups. Gross sexual violence has been a weapon of war in the fractured country for a long time.
A court in the capital city has been holding hearings on the Terrain Attack Suspects since last year. This time the court martial will be presenting verdicts on a total of twelve soldiers and try them for the heinous crimes. Santo Domij, SPLA’s deputy spokesperson, announced that the court hearings shall be open to the media and diplomatic parties in the country.
According to witnesses, the attack had lasted for several hours where the suspects had also looted the Terrain Hotel. Most of the rape victims fled back to their country, as South Sudan now waits for them to return, following the court hearings. Only one decided to give evidence back in September 2017 in a high-profile hearing and encouraged other survivors to come forward too to bring their case to justice.
This trial will be a decisive touchstone for South Sudan on its controversial role in overlooking civil war crimes. The pressure mostly comes from the international community.