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Guinean military official charged in 2009 killings, rapes of protesters

From Sarah Jones, CNN
updated 7:12 AM EST, Sat February 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Lt. Col. Moussa Camara is the highest ranking official charged in the attacks
  • More than 150 people died in the ensuing chaos
  • At least 109 women were sexually abused, the U.N. says

(CNN) -- A Guinean court has filed charges against an army colonel for his alleged role in mass rapes and killings after security forces opened fire on protesters in 2009.

Lt. Col. Moussa Camara is the highest ranking official charged in the attacks on demonstrators gathered in a Conakry stadium to protest the military rule in the country at the time.

More than 150 people died in the ensuing chaos and 109 women were sexually abused, the United Nations said in a statement.

"Women were raped by soldiers in the stadium. I saw them," former Guinean prime minister Sidya Toure said at the time.

Toure led the country from 1996-1999, and was participating in the peaceful demonstration in the capital.

The Guinean government has said most of the victims were crushed as the crowd stormed the stadium doors.

"The recent charges are a welcome step in the right direction. They signal that no official is above the law, and no citizen is below it," said Margaret Wallstrom, a U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

Wallstrom highlighted the need to protect survivors while prosecuting those responsible for crimes against humanity.

"There remains an urgent need to assist the survivors and bring the remaining perpetrators to justice," she said. "It is equally crucial that all victims, other witnesses and their families are afforded full protection and that no effort is spared to ensure their safety throughout this process."

Tens of thousands of people had gathered to protest the rule of Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, who seized power in a bloodless coup.

Military rule in the nation ended in 2010, when President Alpha Conde took over after winning elections.

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