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September stadium massacre a 'crime against humanity'

Video by Nicolas Rushworth

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-20

The International Criminal Court declared on Friday that the mass slaughter of opposition supporters last year by Guinea's military junta amounted to a "crime against humanity". As many as 156 people died or disappeared on Sept. 28.

AFP - 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 said Friday.

"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.

Describing "atrocious crimes" committed on September 28 in Conakry's biggest stadium, Bensouda said "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 already 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.

However, the deputy prosecutor said that Guinea can "also become an example" if "Guineans judge the main perpetrators of these atrocious crimes."

"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.

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 as a close relation of former regime leader Moussa Dadis Camara, was kept 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."
 

Date created : 2010-02-20

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