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Key military suspect in Juba hotel attack trial dies

AFP , Friday 20 Oct 2017
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A military commander accused of overseeing a chilling attack by his men on a Juba hotel in which at least five foreign aid workers were raped, has died in prison, the army said Friday.

First Lieutenant Luka Akechak was one of 12 suspects accused of murder, rape and looting at the Terrain Hotel in the capital in July last year.

Army spokesman Santo Domic Chol said Akechak was the commander of the unit accused of the abuses, and was found dead a week ago.

"He (Akechak) was reported found dead," said Domic, adding that the soldier had died a "natural death". He said no post mortem report had been delivered to the army.

Akechak, a member of the presidential guard, was an important suspect in a case that has highlighted the difficulty in bringing perpetrators to book in a country wracked by almost four years of civil war.

"Instead of him stopping rape or looting because he was a commanding officer for that unit at that very time ... one of the victims reported that he (Akechak) was the one facilitating rape, he was the one telling the soldiers rape this, rape that and this," said Domic.

The lawyer representing the hotel's owners, Philip Sanyang demanded a post-mortem to prove he had died of natural causes.

The exact charges against each of the suspects have remained unclear, as well as the evidence that led them to be charged.

The court in July ordered victims to fly back to South Sudan, refusing to accept testimony given outside the country or by video conference.

In August a victim from Italy returned to testify and in two weeks another victim will come back to give evidence.

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