Nine dead in Guinea ex-dictator jailbreak: prosecutorMon, 06 Nov 2023 11:11:37 GMT

At least nine people were killed during a weekend jailbreak in Guinea that saw armed commandos briefly pluck ex-dictator Moussa Dadis Camara from prison, officials said on Monday.Heavily armed men burst into the prison in the capital Conakry early on Saturday, taking Camara and three other former officials who are on trial alongside him over a 2009 massacre during his presidency.It was unclear whether the group had escaped or been taken against their will, as their lawyers have stated.The army described the operation as an attempt to “sabotage” government reforms and swore its “unwavering commitment” to the current military-led authorities.Later on Saturday, the army and Camara’s lawyer said he had been recaptured and was back behind bars, without providing details.Two of the men seized alongside Camara were also returned to the prison, while a third, Claude Pivi, was still at large.Prosecutor General Yamoussa Conte said in a statement on Monday that nine people had died as a result of the jailbreak commando operation.Three were suspected attackers, while the others included four members of the security forces and two people, presumed to be civilians, who had been in an ambulance.Press reports had said that civilians inside an ambulance had been hit during an exchange of gunfire during the raid.The prosecutor general also said in the statement he was ordering an investigation be opened against Camara and the other three men over the alleged killing of security force members and for alleged manslaughter.The junta in the West African country, which seized power in September 2021, late on Sunday published a series of decrees pronouncing the removal from their jobs of dozens of military members and prison administrative staff.- On trial – Camara, 58, has been detained since going on trial in September 2022.He and about 10 other former military and government officials stand accused over a massacre in 2009 carried out by security forces loyal to the then junta leader.Some 156 people were killed and at least 109 women were raped at a political rally attended by opposition supporters in a Conakry stadium on September 28 and in the days that followed, according to a UN-mandated enquiry.Camara — who came to power in a coup in December 2008 — and his co-defendants are charged with murder, sexual violence, torture, abduction and kidnapping. They face life in prison if convicted.The trial is unprecedented in a country ruled for decades by authoritarian regimes, where people had become used to the impunity of the security forces.Camara seized power immediately after the death of Lansana Conte, Guinea’s second post-independence president, who had ruled autocratically for 24 years.Several months after the massacre, Camara was ousted from power after suffering a head wound in an attempted assassination by his aide de camp in December 2009, formally giving up power the following month.He received treatment in Morocco before fleeing into exile in Burkina Faso and returned to Guinea last year to stand trial.The country of about 14 million people is currently led by military leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who stormed the presidential palace with soldiers and overthrew civilian president Alpha Conde in September 2021.It is among several countries in West Africa to have seen coups since 2020, along with Mali, Burkina Faso and this year, Niger and Gabon.