Thursday, October 15, 2009

ICC to Investigate Guinea Killings

Thursday, October 15, 2009
22:29 Mecca time, 19:29 GMT

ICC to investigate Guinea killings

The crackdown on thousands of opposition supporters left at least 150 people dead

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has launched a preliminary investigation into last month's deadly crackdown on opposition demonstrators in Guinea.

The probe is meant to establish whether grave offences were committed when troops opened fire on 50,000 protesters at the country's main soccer stadium on September 28.

The ICC, based in the Netherlands, is the world's first permanent court set up to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.

The office of Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor, said in a statement: "A preliminary examination of the situation has been immediately initiated in order to determine whether crimes falling under the Court's jurisdiction have been perpetrated."

A Guinean rights group has said 157 people were killed and more than 1,200 others wounded when protesters rallied against plans by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, the country's military ruler, to run for president next year.

'Not responsible'

The government put the death toll at 57. Camara has blamed uncontrollable elements within the Guinean army for the killings, saying he cannot be held responsible.

"From the information we have received, from the pictures I have seen, women were abused or otherwise brutalised on the pitch of Conakry's stadium, apparently by men in uniform," Fatou Bensouda, the ICC deputy prosecutor, said in a statement.

"This is appalling, unacceptable. It must never happen again. Those responsible must be held accountable."

Earlier this week, thousands of Guineans stayed indoors to mark the killings, bringing the capital, Conakry, to a standstill.

The strike also froze production in the country's mining operations.

If the court finds crimes were committed, it could launch a full-scale investigation and prosecute senior commanders. The initial phase of the investigation will likely take months.

Camara seized power in a coup nine months ago, hours after the death of President Lansana Conte.

The African Union has given Camara until mid-October to confirm he will not stand in presidential elections slated for January 31, warning of sanctions if he misses that deadline.


The September violence drew international condemnation, with Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, saying Camara should quit while France cut military co-operation with its former colony.

Karel De Gucht, the European Union's aid chief, said Camara should stand trial for a "crime against humanity".

The International Criminal Court has so far launched four full-scale investigations in the DR Congo, Uganda, Sudan's Darfur region and the Central African Republic.

Source: Agencies

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