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Guinea absolves Dadis Camara of any blame for massacre

Junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara was absolved of any blame by Guinea's junta for a massacre in Conakry. The president of the commission set up by the junta recommended legal action against Lieutenant Aboubacar Cherif "Toumba" Diakite.


AFP - The president of a commission set up by Guinea's junta to probe a massacre of opposition supporters in Conakry last year on Tuesday absolved junta chief Captain Moussa Dadis Camara of any blame.

Instead it recommended legal action against Lieutenant Aboubacar Cherif "Toumba" Diakite, an aide to the junta leader who has been on the run since he shot and seriously injured Captain Camara in an alleged assassination attempt on December 3.

Asked about the role of the junta chief and the minister for special services, Major Moussa Tiegboro Camara, commission president Siriman Kouyate said they played no part in the massacre in which the UN says more than 150 people died.

"They were responsible for nothing. It is clear that the president (Camara) never went to the stadium" where the massacre took place, he told journalists.

On September 28, troops shot, stabbed and beat up opponents of the military regime who had gathered for a rally in a Conakry's biggest stadium. Many women were publicly raped by soldiers and some subsequently murdered.

A UN inquiry found that at least 156 people were killed or disappeared and allocated "individual criminal responsibility" to Captain Camara, his former aide de camp, and Major Camara.

The UN and Guinean and international human rights bodies accused Captain Camara and the troops involved of crimes against humanity.

A leading African human rights group called the junta report a whitewash and said the case should be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

"A petition to the International Criminal Court is indispensable so that Guinea can break away from impunity", said Mamadi Kaba, chief of the Guinea branch of African Encounter for the Defense of Human Rights.

The deputy prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, is due in Conakry on February 15 to decide whether the stadium massacre is in the jurisdiction of the court.

Kaba said the junta commision had been set up with the express purpose of "whitewashing certain authorities" and had done its job.

The junta commission president Kouyate said the blame lay with Toumba, members of the presidential guard and others.

"There was Toumba Diakite, a team of Red Berets (presidential guardsmen) and other people not yet identified (who have yet to be legally pursued). There are plenty of people, it's not just him," he added, without giving other names.

"People should be pursued before Guinean courts because these are common law crimes," the prosecutor said, contradicting the UN, which holds suspects should be brought before the ICC.

Unlike the UN panel, the junta's commission found that only 58 people were killed on September 28, while five others "died on the following days in hospital", making a total of 63.

The commission also recommended a "general amnesty" for leaders of the opposition who called for the rally in the stadium, which was to protest any plan by Captain Camara to stand in elections.

"Those who will benefit from the amnesty are the politicians who, before September 28, challenged the authorities in a certain manner," Kouyate said. "The (transitional) prime minister (Jean-Marie Dore) is among their ranks today. So to rub salt in the wound would have complicated the situation."

Before he was shot, Captain Camara alleged that the blame for the stadium carnage lay with the opposition leaders who had convened a banned rally.

Dore was sworn in on January 26 to head a transitional government to hold "transparent and credible elections" under an agreement with the junta, which is being run by interim president General Sekouba Konate.

Under this accord, Camara is convalescing, currently in Burkina Faso, whose President Blaise Compaore is seeking to mediate an end to 13 months of crisis caused by military rule in Guinea.

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