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Guinea coup leader returns after decade in exile

By NAN
22 December 2021   |   8:57 pm
The leader of a 2008 coup in Guinea arrived back in the country on Wednesday after more than a decade in exile, hinting he would face justice over crimes committed on his watch.

[FILES] Toumba Diakite, aide to Guinea’s military ruler Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, at the Martyrs Square of Conakry during Independence Day ceremonies.<br />Diakite, who has been a fugitive since December 2009, has been arrested in Dakar, sources said on December 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Seyllou

The leader of a 2008 coup in Guinea arrived back in the country on Wednesday after more than a decade in exile, hinting he would face justice over crimes committed on his watch.

Moussa Dadis Camara, a soldier who presided over a chaotic year in charge of the West African country in 2009, was greeted at the airport in the capital Conakry by dancing and singing supporters with T-shirts bearing his face, AFP correspondents said.

In September 2009, troops under his command opened fire on a crowd of opposition supporters gathered in a stadium and more than 100 women were raped.

The notorious incident has hung over the country ever since with activists demanding justice, but an inquiry ended in 2017 with no trial.

“I am ready to put myself at the disposal of the courts because nobody is above the law,” Camara told the media in Burkina Faso, where he has been living in exile.

He said he wanted a trial to take place for the stadium massacre because it would bring a “sigh of relief” to the families of victims.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and three Guinean rights groups said in a statement on Wednesday that they hoped his return would “open the way for a trial that the victims have been waiting for for over 12 years”.

Camara was named the head of a junta that seized power in December 2008 after the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte.

But he was forced to flee a year later after one of his allies shot him in the head in an assassination attempt.

Guinea suffered another coup in September this year, and the current ruling junta approved the visit of Camara on humanitarian grounds.

However, the current leaders have also said they are preparing to hold a trial over the 2009 massacre.