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S.Sudan arrests soldiers over reported sexual violence

Military court martial to try soldiers accused of committing crimes during recent clashes between govt. and rebel forces

Marc Chenault   | 29.07.2016
S.Sudan arrests soldiers over reported sexual violence FILE PHOTO


By Parach Mach

JUBA, South Sudan 

At least 121 government soldiers have been arrested on suspicion of committing crimes including rape, gang rape, and looting of civilians during the recent clashes in South Sudan's capital Juba.

"The army general command detained 12 soldiers due to rights abuses, including two who have committed crimes against their colleagues," army spokesman Brig, Gen. Lul Ruai Koang told Anadolu Agency.

The South Sudanese army has been accused of rights abuses in the two-year civil war, but arrests are rare.

The country's army, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), last week announced the establishment of a military court martial that will try soldiers accused of committing crimes during the recent clashes between government forces (SPLA) loyal to President Salva Kiir and ex-rebels (SPLA-IO) forces loyal to missing sacked First Vice President Riek Machar.

The court is also meant to try those accused of looting civilian properties during and after the violence.

Koang said that the accused will be taken for court martial once investigations are completed.

“The court has been set up, we made arrest of SPLA soldiers who have been accused of wrongdoing, and we have started investigations,” he explained, adding that some of the accused will be presented before the military judge for trials.

The United Nations has reported more than 120 cases of sexual violence, including rapes and gang rapes of women and minors, during the renewed clashes that have left more than 300 dead and thousands displaced.

The actions are said to be committed by uniformed soldiers. The UN has urged all the parties to sanction the soldiers responsible for the abuses.

South Sudan emerged from more than four decades of civil war at the cost of 2.5 million lives lost to gain independence from Sudan in July 2011. The country again slid back into chaos that has further killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than 2 million from their homes when Kiir accused Machar of plotting a coup.

The country is still plagued by violence despite signing a peace deal in August 2015.

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