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Guinea massacre was ‘humanity crime,’ says report

By Guardian Nigeria
19 December 2009   |   4:07 am
 A NEW report into the killing of 157 protesters by the security forces in Guinea in September says it was a premeditated massacre. The report, by Human Rights Watch, says the killings were designed to silence opposition to military rule.  The authors claimed Guinea's presidential guard fired into the crowd until they ran out of bullets. They said this was a crime against humanity, coming under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The Human Rights Watch’s report added that the military tried to cover up the massacre by removing bodies from hospital for secret mass burials.

Guinea’s government puts a lower figure on the number of dead – 57 – and says most of these were trampled to death, not shot.

The country’s junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara previously tried to distance himself from the incident by saying he was not in full control of the officers at the rally.

But a renegade soldier accused of the massacre, Lt Toumba Diakite, shot Capt Camara in an assassination attempt.

Lt Toumba Diakite told French RFI radio that the army tried to blame him for a massacre of protesters in September.

He said he shot Capt Camara in the neck to avoid being arrested and because he felt “betrayed”.

Capt Camara was flown to Morocco for treatment after the shooting on 3 December and has not been seen since.

Junta officials have given mixed messages about the seriousness of his condition – with some suggesting he could return to the country within weeks and others saying it could be a much longer period of time.

Lt Diakite, on the run since the shooting, said he had shot Capt Camara twice in the neck after being threatened with arrest.

But in his interview, Lt Diakite blamed the whole incident on Capt Camara and said he “knew the reality on the ground very well”.

“He also brought in 250 new recruits from the training school for the navy who were ordered to dress in civilian clothes and armed with knives and carried out large massacres,” he said.

The military took over in Guinea after the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte last December, but their rule has been characterised by instability and violent crackdowns on dissent.

Since the shooting of Camara, soldiers have rounded dozens of people it suspects of being linked to Lt Diakite.