AFP

Guinea pledges to prosecute massacre suspects 'soon' 28 September 2020 - 22:02

A court in Guinea's capital Conakry promised on Monday to bring suspects of a brutal 2009 stadium massacre to trial "soon," after growing international frustration over the delay.At least 157 people were killed and 109 women raped by troops during a massive opposition protest in a Conakry stadium on September 28, 2009 against the rule of then junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara, after his security forces opened fire on the crowd.There were hopes of prosecuting about 12 people suspected of being behind the massacre, after a years-long legal investigation into the event ended in December 2017. The proceedings then stalled, prompting criticism from rights groups and the international community.Guinea's ministry of justice repeatedly promised to stage the trial in June this year but that did not take place. "After so much bullying and suffering, the Guinean government is humiliating us even more," said Saran Cisse, who said she was raped and beaten at the stadium in 2019, and called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to intervene.Last week, the embassies of the United States, European Union and France in Conakry also issued a joint communique urging Guinea to "hold a trial as soon as possible".Human Rights Watch, along with local rights groups, also said in a statement Monday that the ICC should urge Guinean authorities to quickly stage the trial. This would "give surviving victims an opportunity to participate in a trial that would be a key step in the fight against impunity in Guinea," the statement said.A spokesman for Guinea's justice ministry told AFP that the government had played its part and that the trial date depended on the public prosecutor's office.Sidi Souleymane Ndiaye, the relevant public prosecutor, confirmed on Monday that he currently is "organising the trial". "The trial will soon be held at the premises of the Conakry Court of Appeal," he said, without specifying an exact date.Pressure on Guinea to bring the massacre case to court comes ahead of a highly-contested presidential election on October 18.Incumbent President Alpha Conde, 82, is running for a third term, a possibility that provoked deadly protests in the country from October last year.

Issue 86