UN: Guinea military junta leader Camara responsible for massacre

A leaked UN report finds Guinea military junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara directly responsible for the massacre of more than 150 pro-democracy demonstrators in September.

By , Reuters

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    Guinea's Defence Minister Sekouba Konate meets soldiers at the Alpha Yaya Diallo military camp in the capital Conakry December 11.
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Guinea’s junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara bears direct responsibility for the Sept. 28 killings by security forces of more than 150 pro-democracy marchers, according to leaked UN findings on Monday.

Guinea, the world’s top exporter of bauxite and a pivotal country for the security of West Africa, has been on the brink of chaos since the massacre and a botched assassination attempt against Camara on Dec. 3 by his former aide de camp.

Camara, who has not been seen in public since he was rushed to Morocco for medical treatment after the attempt on his life, could face international prosecution for crimes against humanity if the report’s findings are followed up.

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"The commission considers there are sufficient grounds for presuming direct criminal responsibility by President Moussa Dadis Camara," said a copy of the report obtained by Reuters and which was delivered to the UN Security Council and African regional bodies at the weekend.

"The commission recommends that the International Criminal Court be seized with respect to those persons on whom, according to this report’s findings, weighs a strong suspicion of crimes against humanity," it added of violence including mass killings, rape and sexual mutilations of opposition supporters.

Guinean Communications Minister Idriss Cherif told Reuters he had not studied the report but complained of a "procedural fault in the manner in which the report has been communicated".

"I get the impression people want to speed things up as if it were a race against the clock. It is not normal," Cherif said by telephone.

Systemic

Camara’s absence from Guinea 18 days after suffering head injuries described by the junta as superficial has aroused speculation that his condition is worse than thought and that he is under Western-backed pressure to go into exile.

"He is still in hospital for his treatment. We have nothing more to say for now," Moroccan Foreign Minister Taief Fassi Fihri told Reuters in Rabat.

The UN inquiry, based on 687 interviews conducted by investigators in the capital Conakry and elsewhere in late November and early December, corroborated witness reports that more than 150 people were killed or went missing at the rally.

At least 109 girls and women were subjected to rape, sexual mutilation and sequestration for repeated rape, with hundreds more people subjected to torture and abuse.

The report termed the killings and rape as "systematic" and "organised", contradicting Camara’s initial argument that unruly elements of the army were to blame.

Apart from Camara himself, the inquiry held as responsible his former aide and would-be assassin, Aboubacar "Toumba" Diakite, and another Camara ally, Claude Pivi.

It named Defence Minister Sekouba Konate, who has been in charge of the country since Camara’s absence, as among several other figures who might be implicated in the violence but whose exact involvement should be investigated further.

Konate, a professional soldier seen as having few political ambitions, is believed by some in the West as more likely than Camara to allow a transition to civilian rule.

Konate has restored a degree of calm to Guinea and has vowed to clamp down on a culture of indiscipline in the army, but has so far made no public reference to civilian rule.

(Additional reporting by James Mackenzie in Paris, Saliou Samb in Conakry and Lamine Ghamni in Rabat; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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A Human Rights Watch report released last week said the killings in Guinea "rise to the level of crimes against humanity." Read more here.

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