Guinea opposition bloodbath a crime against humanity: ICC
Conakry (AFP) Feb 20, 2010
The massacre of opposition supporters by Guinea's military junta in September 2009 amounted to a crime against humanity, the deputy prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said.
"As the deputy prosecutor of the ICC, I end this visit with the feeling that crimes of the order of crimes against humanity were committed," Fatou Bensouda told reporters at the end of a three-day mission to Conakry on Friday.
Bensouda spoke of "atrocious crimes" committed on September 28 in Conakry's biggest stadium, adding "men in uniform attacked civilians, they killed and wounded.
"In full daylight they mistreated, violated and submitted women to unprecedented sexual violence."
A United Nations commission of enquiry had already reached a similar conclusion.
It investigated the incident when troops attacked opponents of Guinea's military regime who had gathered for a rally. Soldiers shot, stabbed and beat protesters, publicly raping women.
It declared in a report published on December 21 that "it is reasonable to conclude that the crimes perpetrated on September 28, 2009 and the following days could be qualified as crimes against humanity."
The commission said the violence had resulted in at least "156 deaths or disappearances" and that "at least 109 women" had been victims of rape or other sexual violence.
The junta has said there were 63 deaths.
Despite her conclusions, Bensouda said Guinea could become an example if it was willing to bring the main perpetrators to justice.
"These few days working in Guinea confirmed that Guinean institutions and the ICC can work in a complementary way: either Guinean authorities can prosecute the main people in charge themselves, or they will turn to the court to do it," she said.
During her time in Guinea, Bensouda visited hospitals and held discussions with those in charge of dealing with emergency casualties, in trauma and maternity wards and in the morgue.
She also made a stop at the military camp where junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in the head in a failed assassination attempt on December 3.
The ICC mission came as Guinea announced a transition government to steer the country from military to civilian rule, with elections expected in June.
Colonel Siba Lohalamou, considered close to former regime leader Moussa Dadis Camara, stayed on as the justice minister.
In December the UN report said Camara and his aides bore "individual criminal responsibility" for the stadium massacre.
Among those mentioned was Moussa Tiegboro Camara, who is also part of the interim government despite being "squarely implicated in the September 2009 stadium massacre, Human Rights Watch told AFP earlier this week.
But a junta-appointed commission this month absolved the former regime chief, who is convalescing in Burkina Faso since the assassination attempt, of blame over the stadium incident, saying he is "guilty of nothing."
On Friday, Senegalese magistrate Amady Ba, head of co-operation in the office of the prosecutor at the ICC in The Hague, told the press: "We expect that the court will not allow a sham of an enquiry or a mock trial."
earlier related report
Here, there are no squads of "red berets" like those at the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp in Conakry where "Dadis" was constantly surrounded by soldiers after a coup carried him to power at the end of 2008.
In the upper-crust suburb of Ouga 2000, there is no security guard visible in front of the house that Burkina Faso's president allocated to Camara for his convalescence, just hundreds of metres from the presidential palace.
Only "six or seven soldiers" are posted in the courtyard, according to sources close to Burkina president Blaise Compaore, who regularly comes to visit Dadis to break his isolation.
The junta chief chief does not seem the same after December 3, when his assistant lieutenant Aboubakar Sidiki Diakité nicknamed "Toumba", tried to kill him by shooting him in the head.
The two had quarrelled about their role in a massacre of opposition supporters on September 28 in a Conakry stadium, in which some 156 people died according to the United Nations.
Wounded in the head, Dadis was treated for five weeks in a military hospital in Rabat, Morocco, before making a surprise arrival on January 12 in Ouagadougou
A short while after, it was an unrecognisable Dadis who appeared in front of the cameras.
Thinner and without his customary red beret a long scar could be seen running down his cranium, while his eyes were void of their usual keenness.
He laboriously read out a message ratifying the choice of General Sekouba Konate to lead the country's interim government from military to civilian rule in a six month transition that would result in elections in June.
At present three doctors -- two Moroccans and a Guinean -- are following his progress as he embarks on a program to rehabilitate both arms and his right foot. He also needs to recover from a pulmonary embolism.
A military source has confirmed that his wife Jeanne is at his side, as well has his nephew 'Theo': "his right hand man who does his shopping for him."
'Theo' is police officer Theodore Kourouma who was also implicated in the September massacre.
Before his attempted assassination, the extremely voluble Dadis would entertain lengthy exchanges with reporters.
He created controversy with regular diatribes on Guinean television on programmes nicknamed the "Dadis show" where he directly attacked soldiers, diplomats and ministers.
However at present, "taking into account his state, he does not want to see the media," explained a top Burkina Faso army official who visits Camara "almost every day."
The same source said Camara "almost never leaves but telephones a lot."
On Monday he received the governor of Guinea's central bank, Alassane Barry, a week after meeting politicians from Senegal and Guinea.
Ironically, the house where he is cloistered previously housed Guinean politician Alpha Conde, an opposition leader particularly reviled by Dadis, who often criticised him.
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