Guinea begins closing arguments highlight 2009 massacre trial

Guinean prosecutors commenced their anticipated closing arguments on Wednesday in the trial of former dictator Moussa Dadis Camara and 10 other former military and government officials, accused in connection with the 2009 massacre.

The proceedings mark a critical phase in a trial that began in September 2022, shedding light on one of Guinea’s darkest historical events.

On September 28, 2009, security forces, including the presidential guard, soldiers, police, and militiamen, violently suppressed an opposition rally at a stadium in Conakry’s suburbs.

The brutal crackdown resulted in the deaths of at least 156 people, the rape of 109 women, and hundreds more injured, as documented by a UN-mandated commission of inquiry.

This event is widely regarded as a pivotal moment of tragedy in the West African nation’s recent history.

Deputy prosecutor Abdoulaye Babadi Camara initiated the closing arguments by underscoring the trial’s “historic” significance.

He outlined the charges against the 11 defendants, which include murder, sexual violence, kidnappings, arson, and looting.

Emphasizing the equality of all Guineans under the law, Camara detailed the horrific events of September 28, 2009, describing the atmosphere of the opposition rally as initially “good-natured” with participants engaging in song, dance, and prayer.

Camara recounted how the security forces abruptly entered the stadium, indiscriminately firing upon the crowd.

He highlighted the ensuing chaos where women were subjected to rape, severe beatings, and theft. The intervention of the Red Cross was crucial in saving some lives amidst the mayhem.

Camara characterized the massacre as a “fateful day” that elicited “national and international indignation.”

Throughout the trial, prosecutors and victims’ lawyers have advocated for the reclassification of the charges as crimes against humanity.

The defendants, however, have consistently denied responsibility for the atrocities.

The prosecution’s arguments are expected to span several days before they announce the sentences sought for the accused.

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