4 defendants in Kuna rape case appear in court; juvenile suspect to be tried as adult

Idaho

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From left, Swedi Iyombelo, 18; Elias Lupango, 19; Mulanga Rashidi, 18; and Ulimwengu Lupango, 16, appeared in court with their attorneys. They are accused of raping an 18-year-old in Kuna in February. Their arraignment was postponed until April. | Katherine Jones, Idaho Statesman

BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — Four Boise residents accused of raping an 18-year-old woman in Kuna in February were arraigned in 4th District Court Friday — but none entered pleas. Their attorneys asked for the next hearing to be set for April.

The defendants are: Elias Lupango, 19; Swedi Iyombelo, 18; Mulanga Rashidi, 18; and a minor who is being tried as an adult, Ulimwengu Lupango, 16. They are all charged with felony rape.

The three adult defendants are being held at the Ada County Jail on $250,000 bond. The 16-year-old had been held in juvenile detention, but he’s now at the county jail, a sheriff’s office spokesman said Friday. All four have their own attorneys.

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Jack Van Valkenburgh, an attorney with the firm representing the 16-year-old, objected to a TV camera in the courtroom on Friday without 24 hours notice. Senior Judge Thomas Ryan allowed the camera to remain.

Van Valkenburgh wanted to argue for bond reduction for his client, but Ryan said that an elected judge, not a senior judge, should handle that. The judge scheduled that for 10 a.m. on April 2, the same time as the continued hearing for the three other defendants.

All of the accused are refugees who came to Boise from Tanzania. It’s unclear if that was their home country, or if they fled another country and ended up in a refugee camp in Tanzania. A Swahili interpreter is helping them understand and participate in court proceedings.

Prosecutors said previously that an 18-year-old woman consented to have sex with Iyombelo, but then changed her mind and said “no” three times. The woman told investigators that he and the other three defendants took turns raping her in a parked car. She told authorities that she feared for her safety if she didn’t comply.

The penalties for felony rape are a minimum of one year and up to life in prison, and up to a $50,000 fine.

This article was originally published in the Idaho Statesman. It is used here with permission.

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