News24

Massacre a 'crime against humanity'

2009-12-21 21:21

Paris - The massacre of opposition supporters carried out by Guinean troops in September amounted to a "crime against humanity", the French foreign minister and a leaked United Nations (UN) report said on Monday.

On September 28, according to a UN report cited by the daily Le Monde, troops loyal to Guinea's ruling junta stabbed, shot or tortured to death at least 156 people and raped, mutilated or enslaved 109 women and girls.

The report said that it considered that there was enough evidence for the leader of the military regime, Moussa Dadis Camara, to be personally held to account before international justice for a crime against humanity.

Speaking separately, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said the report had been distributed to representatives of the UN Security Council members in New York on Friday and Saturday. He endorsed its conclusions.

"The episode in the stadium concerns both Guineans and the entire world, because it was a crime against humanity," he told reporters in Paris.

"I think that it needs a specific inquiry by the International Criminal Court ... Will that be enough, legally speaking? I don't know," he said.

Junta bloodshed

Camara took power in Guinea in December last year in a military putsch carried out in the wake of president Lansana Conte's death.

His unstable regime has not been recognised by the African Union (AU), nor by the rest of the international community, and his plan to seek election as a civilian leader in upcoming elections has been greeted with protests.

In September, Camara's forces attacked an opposition protest that had gathered in a stadium in the capital Conakry.

According to witnesses, human rights groups and now the 60-page UN report seen by Le Monde, the demonstration was savagely repressed by troops that shot, stabbed, mutilated and raped hundreds of prisoners.

Women and girls were carried away to barracks and officers' homes to serve as sex slaves for several days. Others were raped at the scene with batons and knives, then some had rifles forced up their vaginas and fired.

The report's authors interviewed 700 witnesses and warn that the number of dead and wounded is probably higher than the conservative estimate they were able to confirm.

Camara was himself shot and wounded by his aide-de-camp Aboubacar "Toumba" Diakite on December 3, after elements of the junta fell out with each other over who should take the blame for the bloodshed.

He is currently in Morocco receiving treatment for his wounds, while his attacker remains on the run inside Guinea.

There are fears a civil war may erupt if he returns, but the regime has warned it would resist any attempt to deploy international peacekeepers.