Guinea commission blames lieutenant who tried to kill coup leader for stadium massacre

By Boubacar Diallo, AP
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guinean commission report casts blame for massacre

CONAKRY, Guinea — A Guinean investigative commission on Tuesday blamed the man who tried to assassinate the country’s now-exiled junta leader for a September massacre during which human rights groups say at least 156 people were killed.

The report, however, said the junta leader now living in Burkina Faso was not responsible for the violence. That finding contrasts sharply with a U.N. commission report that said Moussa “Dadis” Camara likely bore “individual criminal responsibility” for the soccer stadium massacre.

“Lieutenant (Abubakar) Toumba Diakite and a group of red berets from the presidential guard were responsible for the rapes, murders, injuries and mysterious disappearance of bodies recorded Sept. 28 at the stadium,” said Siriman Kouyate, president of the Guinean commission.

The commission recommended that Diakite and all the soldiers who committed the acts be arrested and brought before Guinean courts.

Diakite, who has been in hiding since the December assassination attempt, told Radio France International he shot Camara because the junta leader had tried to blame him for the massacre and had betrayed the democracy of the West African nation.

Human rights groups, though, have named Diakite as one of the commanders most responsible for the massacre. Numerous witnesses told The Associated Press that they saw him ordering the killings inside the stadium where the pro-democracy rally took place. But human rights groups also hold Camara responsible given that the presidential guard is ultimately under his command.

Camara seized power in a December 2008 coup, hours after the death of longtime dictator Lansana Conte.

Camara promised to quickly hand over power to civilians in elections in which he would not run. But he began dropping hints that he planned to run after all, prompting the massive pro-democracy protest in September.

On the morning of Sept. 28, soldiers loyal to Camara sealed off the exits to the national soccer stadium where tens of thousands of protesters had gathered to demand an end to military rule. The troops entered and immediately began firing their assault rifles, spraying bullets from left to right into the unarmed crowd, according to survivors.

A U.N. commission investigating the events in Guinea said in its report that the killings and rapes may constitute crimes against humanity.

That report said 156 people were killed or disappeared, at least 109 women were raped or subjected to other forms of sexual violence including sexual mutilation and sexual slavery, and hundreds were tortured or subjected to other cruel and inhuman treatment.

Four days after the massacre, the government released 57 bodies, denying responsibility for the massacre and saying the majority had died of suffocation during a stampede inside the stadium.

Tuesday’s report from the Guinean commission said authorities had recorded 58 deaths and 1,480 wounded, along with five others who died in the days following the massacre.

Camara sought medical treatment in Morocco after being shot in the head and agreed under intense international pressure not to return to Guinea. He gave the go-ahead to the appointment of a civilian prime minister and is now in voluntary exile in Burkina Faso.

will not be displayed