By James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) – The trial of Guinea's former military ruler Moussa Dadis Camara began Wednesday over a massacre on Sept. 28, 2009 when an opposition rally at a stadium in the capital Conakry was brutally suppressed.
At least 156 people were reportedly executed and thousands of others injured and women and girls were raped.
Camara, who returned to the country from exile in Burkina Faso last weekend to face the charges, was charged with having command responsibility over the soldiers who carried out the alleged crimes.
Ten other former officials are being tried alongside Camara, all of whom were in court.
The victims were among the thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators who had turned up to protest at the stadium against Camara’s bid for the presidency the following year.
Camara, 58, seized power in 2008 after long-time leader Lansana Conte died, but he was ousted.
Upon his return, he was detained Tuesday ahead of the beginning of the trial.
An investigation was set from 2010 to 2017 to determine the facts surrounding the tragedy after Camara fled Guinea. It was during that time that some of the alleged perpetrators including Camara were charged.
In 2018, a committee was set up to prepare the trial, but it made little progress until the trial was ordered by junta leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power in a coup in 2021.
Justice Minister Alphonse Charles Wright reaffirmed the authorities' commitment to continue the trial until justice is rendered.
“This is a strong signal to say that Guinea, through the authorities of the transition, is now resolutely committed to the fight against impunity for international crimes, given that impunity is the main cause of the mass crimes that we unfortunately observe everywhere in Africa and elsewhere. The victims of these crimes can now count on Guinean justice,” he said.
Karim Khan, prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, congratulated the authorities for the “commitment” on opening the trial and promised that he would personally follow it.
The trial, which is likely to take several days, was postponed until Oct. 4 at the request of both the defense and prosecution lawyers.