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Governor of Guinea's capital charged over beatings of protesters

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 15 Feb 2013 07:35 PM
Author: Reuters
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CONAKRY, Feb 15 (Reuters) - A court in Guinea has charged the governor of the capital Conakry and two former top military officers over the detention and beatings of protesters during a 2010 presidential election, a human rights group said on Friday.

The governor, Sekou Resco Camara, was charged on Thursday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement.

Ex-army chief General Nouhou Thiam and Commander Aboubakar Sidiki Camara, the former head of the presidential guard, were also charged, the group said. Both men are already on trial for a rocket attack on the residence of President Alpha Conde in July 2011, in which Conde was not harmed.

"With the charging of the governor of Conakry for very grave acts, Guinea's justice system is sending an important signal in the fight against impunity," said FIDH president Souhayr Belhassen.

Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara confirmed that several top military officials had been charged in the affair but declined to give further details.

The 2010 election, Guinea's first free poll since independence from France in 1958, ended the rule of a military junta that had seized power after the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte in 2008.

Conde won the presidency, but the vote was marred by ethnic violence in which at least 10 people were killed 200 injured, according to one pan-African rights group.

The case against Camara and the two other men stems from an incident in which protesters hurled stones at the motorcade of General Sekouba Konate, then the interim head of the junta, in October 2010, between the election's first and second rounds.

Konate escaped, but soldiers later returned to the scene and rounded up dozens of people.

Guinea's state prosecutor launched an inquiry last May into allegations including illegal arrest, detention, wilful beating and injury and abuse of power brought by 17 plaintiffs, including a French soldier of Guinean origin.

Guinea's security forces have a reputation for brutality, borne out by their killing of over 150 protesters in 2009 during the rule of former junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara, who is now exiled in Burkina Faso.

Guinea is the world's largest exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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