September 2, 2016 (JUBA) - A government appointed committee investigating attack and rape on foreign nationals, mainly citizens of the United States at Terrain Hotel in the national capital, Juba, in July by government forces said "sufficient evidence" has been gathered.
- Aid workers from different Non-Governmental Organizations in South Sudan arrive at Wilson airport in Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, July 13, 2016 from Juba. (AP Photo)
Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Juba, deputy minister of justice, Martison Oturomoi, who chairs the six-member committee, also said witnesses with further information are encouraged to come forward.
"We have gathered sufficient evidence but we need information from the members of the public for any information that help in investigation," said Oturomoi, speaking publicly for the first time since the committee was formed by President Salva Kiir in late July.
Terrain Hotel, a luxurious hotel accommodating foreigners and employees from the United Nations agencies, was attacked by suspected government soldiers loyal to President Kiir on 11 July when fighting erupted between rival forces of President Kiir and former First Vice President Riek Machar.
Humanitarian workers and UN staff alleged multiply rapes, looting and physical assault by the armed men who remained inside the hotel’s compounds for several hours, repeatedly raping ladies. A white lady from the United States later on revealed to the international media that she was raped by at least 15 soldiers.
Efforts by the victims of the attack to seek help from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) which was a stone throw away from the hotel, failed. According to the United States government, the American Embassy in Juba later instead contacted local authorities who managed to save lives of the humanitarian staff, putting UNMISS under criticism for failing to respond.
One of the staff, a young ethnic Nuer man, was also shot dead instantly in the hotel compound when his tribal identity was known by the soldiers. An American citizen who witnessed his killing said when the soldiers saw the young Nuer man among the staff he shouted “Nuer” and then shot him twice and he immediately fell to the ground.
Deputy justice minister, Oturomoi, said his team, which included Ambassador Anduriga from the ministry of foreign affairs, Major General Bor Wutchok from the national security service and Colonel Matur Dharuai Yor from SPLA military intelligence and James Biel Ruot, deputy inspector of police, spoke to survivors of the attack including foreigners.
"But we need to speak to more people and don’t fear, your identity can be protected," Oturomoi further appealed.
The official said their findings, which he never revealed when that will be ready, will be submitted to President Salva Kiir. He said no suspect has been arrested but he claimed that the SPLA was cooperating without elaborating further.
There is skepticism that the investigation into this particular attack on foreigners and that on South Sudanese would ever be addressed by the government for failure in the past.