South Sudan said on Wednesday it had detained at least 17 people, most of them soldiers, suspected of committing rape and other crimes in July during an attack on Hotel Terrain in the capital Juba.
Results of a government inquiry into the incident showed between 50-100 South Sudanese soldiers had participated in the attack, said Martinson Mathew Otorumoi, who headed the investigation.
The attack occurred during several days of fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former vice president, Riek Machar, who belong to different ethnic groups.
On Tuesday a separate U.N. investigation of the attack said that civilians at the hotel, who included aid workers, had been subjected to or witnessed murder, acts of intimidation, sexual violence and torture.
Speaking to reporters in Juba, Otorumoi said the government inquiry had also uncovered evidence of murder, rape, looting and vandalism.
Eight suspects have been detained on rape allegations and another eight on suspicion of stealing vehicles, he said. One other suspect has been accused of injuring his victim.
“A special court needs to be constituted to undertake trials of suspects implicated in … acts committed at Terrain,” Otorumoi added.
“Given the fact that most of the suspects are members of the military, the (investigation) committee proposed that the special court to be constituted should be a special military court.”
The July fighting was the latest outbreak of major violence pitting forces loyal to Kiir and Machar, who hail from the Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups respectively.
Their political rivalry led to a civil war in 2013 that was often fought along ethnic lines. The two men signed a shaky peace deal in August last year but it was continuously violated.
Machar, whose sacking as vice president in 2013 triggered the war, was reinstated in his position earlier this year but again fled South Sudan after the July fighting and has since been replaced as vice president.
The U.N. inquiry showed the global body’s peacekeepers in the country had failed to respond to the attack, which occurred less than a mile from a United Nations compound. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has asked for the replacement of the force’s commander.