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

Captain Camara, ephemeral and extravagant self-proclaimed president, and a dozen other former military and government officials will respond to a litany of assassinations, sexual violence, kidnappings, fires, looting, qualifications that do not account for the abominations committed there at 13 years old.

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

Captain Camara, ephemeral and extravagant self-proclaimed president, and a dozen other former military and government officials will respond to a litany of assassinations, sexual violence, kidnappings, fires, looting, qualifications that do not account for the abominations committed there at 13 years old.

That day, the red berets of the presidential guard, police, gendarmes and militiamen caused a bloodbath to flow with unbridled cruelty and inhuman coldness during the gathering of tens of thousands of opposition sympathizers, gathered in a stadium in the suburbs of Conakry to peacefully demonstrate their strength and dissuade Mr. Camara from running for president in January 2010.

A multitude of testimonies report how the Red Berets entered the compound, cordoned off the access and opened fire indiscriminately on a festive and unarmed crowd.

The men continued their work with knives, machetes and bayonets, strewing the lawn, aisles and corridors inside and outside the stadium with corpses. They abused dozens of women and finished off many of them.

The abuses continued the days after, against sequestered women and tortured detainees.

During those days, at least 156 people were killed and hundreds injured, at least 109 women were raped, according to the report of an international commission of inquiry mandated by the UN.

- "Honor" -

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

The commission charges Captain Camara with "personal criminal responsibility and command responsibility". The officers and units involved responded to his command. Whether or not he gave the order to commit the crimes, he did nothing to prevent them.

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

Justice on Tuesday ordered his detention as well as that of his co-defendants still free. They could stay there until the end of the trial, which is of indefinite duration, said one of their lawyers.

Captain Camara, 58 years old today, returned in the night from Saturday to Sunday in Conakry to participate in his trial and, according to his relatives, "to clear his honor".

In the box must also take place, among the main defendants, Lieutenant Aboubacar Sidiki Diakité, alias Toumba, aide-de-camp of Dadis Camara; Commander Moussa Thiéboro Camara, one of the figures of the junta, both present at the stadium according to witnesses; officer Claude Pivi, close to Dadis Camara and one of the commanders of the presidential guard; and Colonel Abdoulaye Chérif Diaby, former Minister of Health.

The latter is suspected of having ensured that the wounded were deprived of treatment and of having participated in the large-scale enterprise consisting in removing the bodies and concealing the evidence.

- "Boussole" - 

To see their faces, the victims would have to crowd in front of the new court built on purpose in the center of Conakry and barely completed.

The procrastination of power and the impunity erected into an "institution", according to the international commission, of almost untouchable security forces in a country ruled for decades by authoritarian regimes have long cast doubt on the holding of the trial.

Victims' organisations, human rights defenders and the International Criminal Court have kept up the pressure on the authorities to make that day come. Karim Khan, prosecutor of the ICC, an institution likely to replace the Guinean State if the latter fails to render justice, is expected at the opening.

The lack of political will and the apparent fear of rekindling old demons in a country with a troubled political history have been blamed. Defendants held high positions under the Condé presidency (2010-2021).

It is finally under a new junta leader that the trial must be held, set up as a marker of the fight against impunity.

Colonel Mamady Doumbouya has called for the trial to take place this year before the anniversary date. Came to power by a putsch in 2021, he proclaimed to make justice his "compass".

Rights advocates, however, point out that the past few months have seen new authorities crack down on freedoms. And they claim that the trial is not a pretense.

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