Conakry (AFP) – Fourteen suspects held over a 2009 stadium massacre in Guinea which killed 157 people are to go before a criminal tribunal after a legal investigation concluded, the country’s justice minister said.
“I am happy to announce to you that the judicial investigation into the 2009 Conakry stadium massacre ended on December 29. (It) took almost seven years,” said Cheick Sako.
“The committal order to go before the criminal tribunal was taken at the same time on Friday, opening the way to trial,” said Sako, adding a steering committee was being set up to deal with the “material preparation of the forthcoming trial.”
At least 157 people were killed and 109 women raped by troops during a massive opposition protest in the stadium on September 28, 2009 against the rule of then junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara after his security forces opened fire on the crowd.
Last month, human rights organisations and massacre victims said the three investigating judges had notified them that the judicial investigation was complete after the panel heard testimony from hundreds of people present that day.
At the time, the ministry of justice said the judges had forwarded the file “to the public prosecutor at the Court of First Instance of Dixinn for final settlement,” opening the way for the 14 defendants to stand trial.
Camara, a former army officer, seized power in 2008 after the death of Guinea’s longtime dictator Lansana Conte. Despite initial support he rankled the population when he broke a pledge not to run for president.
After surviving an assassination attempt in late 2009, Camara fled the country and now lives in exile in Burkina Faso, where he was indicted in July 2015 by Guinean magistrates for his alleged involvement in the massacre.
His former aide-de-camp, Aboubakar Sidiki Diakite, known as Toumba Diakite, extradited from Senegal to Guinea in March 2017, is another defendant.
President Alpha Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected president in 2010, taking over a nation run by a succession of strongmen following independence from France.
Sako said although he could not say when the trial would start “an affair as important as that of September 28, an affair of mass wrongdoing… will be judged here in Guinea whether one wishes so or not” and there was no question of Conakry seeking to delay it.
The United States and the European Union have pledged financial support for the trial and the Guinean state is to budget its own contribution in the coming months.
Sako did not divulge any figures, but commented “if we have no money there will be no trial,” adding the process was expected to last “at least eight to ten months.”