Guinea charges minister over 2009 massacre of demonstrators

CONAKRY Fri Jun 28, 2013 11:19am EDT

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CONAKRY (Reuters) - A court in Guinea has charged a government minister over his alleged role in a stadium massacre in which some 150 people were killed in 2009, a human rights group and a justice ministry official said on Friday.

Pro-democracy demonstrators were shot, stabbed, bludgeoned or trampled to death after gathered at a stadium in the mineral-rich West African nation's capital Conakry on September 28, 2009 for a rally against the military junta then in power.

About 100 women were also raped, gang-raped and tortured in public during the attack.

Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Pivi, an influential member of the junta at the time and now minister for presidential security, was charged on Thursday, Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Organization for Human Rights, told Reuters.

Pivi is the highest-ranking Guinean official to be charged in connection with the massacre to date.

"This is not the first time a high-ranking officer has been charged after this tragedy. We expect concrete signals that all these cases will move forward," Sow said.

Guinea's government was not immediately available for comment, but an official at the justice ministry who asked not to be identified confirmed that Pivi had been charged.

A U.N.-led investigation of the 2009 massacre concluded the abuses likely constituted crimes against humanity. About six people, including senior army officers, have been charged in relation to the attack, though none has yet been tried.

Rights groups have criticized President Alpha Conde, elected in 2010 in Guinea's first democratic handover of power since independence from France in 1958, for not moving fast enough to bring those responsible to justice.

(Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by Joe Bavier and Alistair Lyon)

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