Guinea protesters demand killings probe

2011-09-28 21:37

The Hague - A group of West Africans urged the world's top war crimes court on Wednesday to investigate the killing of more than 150 people during political violence in Guinea in September 2009.

The rape and killing of pro-democracy protesters in Guinea came close to plunging the West African nation, the world's biggest bauxite exporter, into chaos before junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara fled abroad.

A UN report in December 2009 blamed Camara for the "systematic" and "organised" killings at the opposition rally and called on the ICC to investigate what it said could be crimes against humanity.

Guinea has since completed a transition to civilian leadership after years of military rule, and shortly after the bloodshed the new Conakry government promised to prosecute those responsible for the violence.

"Two years later no one has been held to account," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, as he called on the government to do more to ensure justice.

"The Guinean government should learn from the country's recurring cycles of violence that stability will not last if justice is swept under the rug."

Mamadou Jallow, president of an association of West African people in the Netherlands, told Reuters he presented a petition and evidence to ICC prosecutors calling for an investigation.

"Those people who orchestrated the massacre have still not been brought to book. Some of them have been appointed to higher posts now. We are demanding the International Criminal Court take up the matter," Jallow said outside the court.

The petition was lodged while a group of West Africans, some wearing shirts saying 'We want justice,' protested outside the court in The Hague, which is already investigating Libya's Muammar Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor's office confirmed that a "notification along with a petition" had been lodged by a Guinean delegation, but declined comment.

Guinea ratified the ICC's founding treaty in 2003, giving the court jurisdiction over its territory.

The office of ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo opened a 'preliminary examination' into the violence in October 2009, but has yet to open a formal investigation.

Moreno-Ocampo's office has opened 11 preliminary examinations into conflicts in countries from South America to Africa and has opened formal investigations into six conflicts, all of them in Africa.