Guinea pledges to hold 2009 stadium massacre trial

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Guinea’s government has announced it will hold a trial over a 2009 massacre that left more than 150 people dead, state media reported Saturday, in a development that rights groups have long asked for.

In September 2009, troops under then junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara’s opened fire on opposition supporters rallying in a stadium in the West African country’s capital Conakry.

At least 157 were killed, while 109 women were raped in the notorious incident.

The government of former president Alpha Conde — who came to office in 2010 but was ousted in a military coup in September — had long pledged to try the perpetrators.

An investigation ended in 2017. However, a trial never occurred and rights groups condemned repeated delays.

On Friday, Guinea’s interim justice minister Fatoumata Yarie Soumah said the “trial will take place and we are preparing for it,” according to Guinean public television.

Her statement came after a two-day visit by International Criminal Court (ICC) officials who were in the country to speed up preparations for a trial.

Amady Ba, who led the ICC delegation, said Guinean authorities had lent him an “extremely attentive ear,” according to the public broadcaster.

He added that Guinea’s strongman Colonel Mamady Doumbouya wanted a trial “as soon as possible”.

Doumbouya launched a putsch on September 5 and deposed 83-year-old Conde, who had been battling a wave of unpopularity.

In a highly symbolic gesture soon after seizing power, the army strongman went to Conakry’s main sports stadium where he asked one of his guards to lead prayers in memory of a 2009 massacre.

Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire, has defied broad condemnation of the coup and been sworn in as Guinea’s interim president.