June 21, 2024

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Former Guinea coup leader escapes from jail after gunfire erupts in capital

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An army captain who seized power in Guinea in a coup in 2008 escaped from prison in the early hours of Saturday morning following heavy gunfire in the capital.

Justice minister Charles Alphonse Wright told local radio that armed men took control of the Maison Centrale de Conakry, a heavily guarded federal prison, and freed Moussa Dadis Camara and the other suspected masterminds of a massacre of at least 150 pro-democracy supporters at a stadium in 2009.

“We will find them and those responsible will be held accountable,” Wright said. “We wonder how armed men could break the security cordon of the prison and release prisoners. The escapees will be hunted down”.

Wright said that Guinea’s borders had been sealed and that no deaths were reported during the jailbreak. He added that Colonel Moussa Tiégboro Camara, a former government minister and head of presidential security, had already been recaptured.

All of the escapees were on trial for the killing of opposition protesters holding a rally in 2009 to demand democratic rule and oppose Camara’s attempts to run for president in elections scheduled for the following year.

About 50,000 people had gathered at the main football stadium in Guinea’s capital Conakry when soldiers fired live bullets and sexually assaulted women. Camara denied any knowledge of the sexual assaults and blamed the killings on out-of-control soldiers, saying he was “immensely saddened”.

The trial of 11 men suspected to have orchestrated the stadium massacre, who all deny the allegations, began in 2022. It was suspended for almost two months this year after defence lawyers demanded payment from the government. The trial resumed in July.

Camara became president in 2008 after the death of long-term leader Lansana Conté, who had ruled the bauxite-rich nation for more than two decades.

A little-known army…

2023-11-04 09:23:21

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