Guinea: Ex-dictator Camara before the judges and the victims of the September 28 massacre

Guinea: Ex-dictator Camara before the judges and the victims of the September 28 massacre

Former dictator Moussa Dadis Camara is due Wednesday with a dozen co-defendants to testify for the first time before a Guinean court about the horrific massacre of September 28, 2009, a moment victims have been waiting for 13 years.

Captain Camara, short-lived and flamboyant self-proclaimed president, and a dozen other former military and government officials will respond to a litany of assassinations, sexual violence, kidnappings, fires, looting and qualifications that do not explain the atrocities committed there at the age of 13 .

That day, the red berets of the Presidential Guard, police, gendarmes and militiamen caused a bloodbath of unbridled cruelty and inhuman coldness, while tens of thousands of opposition sympathizers gathered at a stadium in a suburb of Conakry to celebrate peacefully to demonstrate their strength and dissuade Mr. Camara from running for President in January 2010.

A multitude of testimonies reported how the Red Berets entered the compound, barricaded access and opened fire indiscriminately at a festive and unarmed crowd.

The men continued to work with knives, machetes and bayonets, littering the lawn, aisles and corridors inside and outside the stadium with bodies. They have abused dozens of women and killed many of them.

Abuses against confiscated women and tortured detainees continued in the days that followed.

At least 156 people have been killed and hundreds injured and at least 109 women raped in recent days, according to the report of an international commission of inquiry commissioned by the UN.

– “To honor” –

The actual numbers are likely to be higher. The acts committed constitute crimes against humanity, the commission concluded three months after the events.

The Commission accuses Captain Camara of “personal criminal and managerial responsibility”. The officers and units involved responded to his orders. Whether or not he gave the order for the crimes to be committed, he did nothing to prevent them.

Brought to power nine months earlier by a coup, released a few months after the massacre, since then in exile in Burkina Faso, he slept in prison for the first time.

The judiciary on Tuesday ordered his detention and those of his co-defendants still at large. They could remain there until the end of the open-ended trial, one of their lawyers said.

Captain Camara, now 58, returned to Conakry on Saturday night to attend his trial and, according to his family, “wash his honor clean.”

There must also be space in the box, among the main accused, Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, aka Toumba, aide-de-camp to Dadis Camara; Commander Moussa Thiéboro Camara, one of the figures of the junta, both present at the stadium, according to witnesses; Officer Claude Pivi, a confidante of Dadis Camara and one of the commanders of the Presidential Guard; and Colonel Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, former Health Minister.

The latter is suspected of ensuring that the wounded were not treated and of being involved in the large-scale operation of removing the bodies and withholding evidence.

– “bousole” –

To see their faces, victims would have to crowd in front of the new courthouse, which was purpose-built in central Conakry and barely completed.

The deferral of power and impunity, which according to the international commission has become an “institution” of almost untouchable security forces in a country ruled by authoritarian regimes for decades, have long raised doubts about the conduct of the process.

Victims’ organizations, human rights defenders and the International Criminal Court have kept up the pressure on the authorities for that day to come. Karim Khan, prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, an institution that is likely to replace the Guinean state if it fails to deliver justice, is expected at the opening.

Blame it on a lack of political will and an apparent fear of reigniting old demons in a country with a troubled political history. The defendants held high positions during Condé’s presidency (2010-2021).

Finally, the trial must be held under a new junta leader, to serve as a symbol of the fight against impunity.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has called for the trial to take place before the anniversary later this year. Coming to power in a coup in 2021, he proclaimed making justice his “compass”.

But rights advocates point out that new authorities have cracked down on freedoms in recent months. And they claim that the process is not a smokescreen.


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