Massacre in Guinea: the trial for the story of ex-dictator Camara
In front of the prosecutor and the lawyers, he remains impassive and responds with arrogance to the magistrates who question him. « That’s a vague question, that… » « It’s French, the question is very clear »retorts the prosecutor, asking the man if he was, yes or no, present at the stadium on September 28, on this dark day of 2009. « Yes, I was at the stadium, but not on the lawn », he tries, despite the many testimonies. So where ? “On the plaza. » And the elements of its unity? » In the field. They were deployed where they had been given a mission: whoever sent them there will be able to answer that question. »
This man who wears good looks and allows himself to refer the prosecutor and civil party lawyers to their questions – » I already answered « , he repeats -, black jacket cut in military style, is one of them. It is Lieutenant-Colonel Moussa Tiegboro Camara, who became Secretary of State in charge of the fight against drugs and organized crime between December 2008 and January 2010, following the coup led by Moussa Dadis Camara. The two men appear with ten other co-accused, all members of the security services and the presidential guard of the former putschist, before a special court constituted for the occasion.
450 victims and civil parties
Since September 28, a symbolic date if ever there was one, Guinea has been holding its breath and watching this trial open to the press and broadcast in particular by the local media Djoma TV. « For us, this trial is very important because, since 1958 (date of the country’s independence – editor’s note), we have experienced many episodes of violence, particularly state violence, with unpunished crimes »relates Thierno Alseny Sall, lawyer and communications officer for the Guinean Human Rights Organization (OGDH), who has participated in various UN and Amnesty International investigations, and is one of more than 450 victims. and civil parties.
Because it is the trial of one of the most heinous massacres that Guinea has known: that of the September 28 stadium (in reference to the date of the 1958 referendum in France), where an opposition demonstration had bloodily repressed by the security forces of the ruling junta led by Moussa Dadis Camara. The announcement of his desire to stand in the presidential election, in violation of his promise when he took power, had led 50,000 people, including several opposition leaders, to demonstrate, the stadium being the point of rallying.
» In the blood « : the word is too weak to express the horror that then began, marked, according to the report of the United Nations commission of inquiry delivered in 2010, by at least « 156 people identified as killed or missing, including 40 whose bodies have disappeared ».Repression characterized by sexual violence, with « at least 109 women victims of rape and other sexual violence » and many cases « of mutilation »some of which resulted in death.
Several testimonies also report summary executions, including of children, looting and acts of torture, not to mention arbitrary detentions and a “logic of destruction of traces of violations committed”, according to the UN. Even today, the real number of victims is unknown.
“Say an end to impunity”
A black day for Guinea, which is trying, thirteen years later, to do justice. The qualifier of » crime against humanity « although mentioned by the UN, was not accepted by the court. « Even if there are question marks, the trial is open, with Guinean magistrates, international observers, that’s the most important thing »says a member of an NGO involved in the development of civil society for more than twenty-five years and who prefers to remain anonymous.
Because, it is the soldiers in power since the coup against Alpha Condé, overthrown a year ago by the colonel and self-proclaimed president of the transition Mamady Doumbouya – a former member of the French Foreign Legion -, who gave the green light to the holding of this trial, the investigation of which had been closed since 2017.
Is it for the new power to “Give yourself international credibility or a period of calm? This is one of the question marks that only the facts will elucidate.”sums up the NGO leader. « This is what is paradoxical with the junta, they say they want to change things, but there is no framework for dialogue with political and social actors »adds Thierno Alseny Sall, for whom the most important thing is “the actual presence of the accused, who are all there” and above all that this judicial time allows “put in place a mechanism to say an end to impunity”.
“A fair, independent, impartial process”
For the time being, the eleven co-defendants deny en bloc. The second questioned by the president of the court and the prosecutors, Marcel Guilavogui, denounced at the bar a « witch hunt against those who were close to Dadis (Camara) »and affirmed « staying that day, sick, at the Alpha Yaya Diallo camp »a military camp which was then the effective place of power of the junta.
But the one who was in 2009 the official bodyguard (and nephew) of Dadis Camara also denounces the detention of “thirteen years without trial” : in Guinea, the law has not often been respected, which gives all the more importance to a trial supported and observed by many NGOs and by the International Criminal Court. Present at the first hearing, his prosecutor, Karim Khan, indicated that he « It is now up to the Guinean authorities and institutions to ensure that a fair, credible, independent and impartial process is carried out ».
After the interrogations of the defendants, will come the deposition of the civil parties, the speeches of the defence, confrontations, indictments. “For the moment, the conduct of the trial is going in the right direction, we hope that this will continue”, testifies Thierno Alseny Sall. Which should make it possible to establish the facts and the responsibilities. According to the report of the UN commission of inquiry, September 28, 2009 was marked by a « widespread and systematic attack launched by the presidential guard and the gendarmes in charge of the fight against drugs » – those of Moussa Tiegboro Camara.
The hearings of the victims, but also of the two main defendants, Moussa Dadis Camara and his former right-hand man, Aboubacar « Toumba » Diakité, are eagerly awaited. The trial is expected to take a long time. » More than a year « , said government spokesman Ousmane Gaoual Diallo. A turning point condensed by Gabriel Haba, the executive secretary of the National Council of Guinean Civil Society Organizations: “This is a historic turning point in the judicial trajectory of the Republic of Guinea. »And that anyone can watch live.