Year after Guinea massacre, culprits yet to be questioned

One year after the massacre of 157 people in Conakry, no army official suspected of taking part in the killings has been brought before a court in Guinea, which is still riven by political divisions.

On September 28 2009, a peaceful rally organised by the opposition in Conakry’s biggest stadium, was bloodily suppressed by junta troops, leaving 157 dead, hundreds of women victims of sexual violence and over a thousand injured.

Both the United Nations and the International Criminal Court said acts committed on that day constituted crimes against humanity.

However a report published on Monday by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Guinean Organisation for the Defence of Human Rights (OGDH) deplores a “judicial stalemate in this drama”.

The nightmare has been recounted in detail — a story of how army and security forces entered the stadium en masse, how they fired on the crowd, raping and sexually abusing women of all ages, beating up those witnesses and opposition leaders.


“I was raped by I don’t know how many people, because at one point I lost consciousness,” said 43-year-old Guinean Salematou Bangoura, a Treasury agent.

‘Four days of hell’
“I was taken into a brothel, a villa belonging to a soldier where I spent several days. If I remember correctly, four days of hell.”

According to the FIDH, “the junta initially wanted to bury this issue by setting up a national commission of enquiry entirely under its control.”

The commission placed responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, a close aide of junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara.

Diakite has been on the run for 10 months after trying to kill Camara two months on from the massacre.

He claimed at the time he had shot him because he had been left to carry the blame for the events of September 28.

After surviving the gunshot wound to the head, Camara took up residence in Burkina Faso and was replaced in January by General Sekouba Konate, charged with leading the transition until the
election of a civilian president.

After pressure from the international community and the ICC, three judges were appointed in February to investigate the massacre.

“Only two soldiers of the second order have been arrested. Those who gave the orders and the top military and political authorities at the time remain well out of sight of the Guinean justice system,” said the FIDH.

The UN-appointed international commission of enquiry — which described the violence as crimes against humanity — concluded that Camara bore an “individual criminal responsibility” for his role as
commander.

Witnesses have also implicated his nephews, Siva Theodore Kourouma and Marcel Kuvugi.

Two other soldiers who were incriminated, Claude Pivi and Moussa Tiegboro Camara lost their ranks as ministers, but they retain prominent positions.

Pivi is chief of presidential security and Camara the national director of the fight against crime and drug trafficking.

As a victim, Salematou Bangoura has been “questioned by the Guinean legal system” but she “does not believe for one moment” in her country’s courts.

“I wish the ICC would take up the case of the victims who lived this barbarism,” she said.

Three months since the country’s first ever democratic election on June 27, Guinea is now awaiting a second round date to be announced, after the planned September 19 poll was called off at the last minute due to logistical and technical problems.

The two civilian candidates are Cellou Dalein Diallo, who was severely wounded by the military on September 28, and Alpha Conde, one of the first to criticise the junta. – AFP

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Mouctar Bah
Guest Author

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