June 2, 2009 / 5:41 PM / 11 years ago

Burn armed robbers, says Guinea crime chief

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinean citizens should burn any armed robbers they catch to avoid filling the country’s prisons, the military government’s anti-crime chief said Tuesday.

Lawlessness in the capital city Conakry has risen in recent months, with soldiers accused of being among the main culprits of robberies and rapes.

“I’m asking you to burn all armed bandits who are caught red-handed committing an armed robbery,” said Captain Moussa Tiegboro Camara, appointed by the military junta to oversee the fight against drugs and serious crime.

“The prisons are full and cannot take more people, and the situation cannot continue like that,” he told a meeting of city officials, adding that residents should form self-defense committees to protect themselves against crime.

The National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD), seized power in the world’s biggest bauxite exporter last December after long-serving President Lansana Conte died. It has made fighting the drug trade and corruption a priority.

So far Guineans have indicated their readiness to allow the CNDD to stay in power until elections scheduled for December, but last month security forces fired on rioters in Conakry, the first major public disturbance since the junta seized power.

Rights groups were unhappy with Camara’s suggestion on cutting crime.

“These measures worry us,” said Thierno Maadjou Sow, president of the Guinean Organization of Human Rights. “The law of a country must not be bypassed, whatever the circumstances. These people must be handed over to justice and tried.”

Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by David Lewis and Jon Hemming

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