OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) - Guinea’s ex-military leader told magistrates he feels moral responsibility for a massacre carried out by soldiers during his regime but does not share criminal responsibility for ordering it, his lawyer said.
Moussa Dadis Camara was questioned by Guinean judges for several hours on Monday regarding the massacre in 2009, in which at least 157 people were killed. The judges travelled to Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, where Camara has lived since fleeing Guinea after an assassination attempt in late 2009.
Camara was indicted by Guinean authorities in connection with the case last week, casting doubt on his participation in October’s presidential election, in which he has announced his intention to run against President Alpha Conde.
Camara ruled the West African country for almost a year after seizing power in a coup in 2008 and remains popular in his native Forest region of southeastern Guinea.
His reputation was tarnished, however, by the massacre in September 2009 of protesters who opposed his candidacy for the presidential election in 2010. Human rights groups and witnesses say at least 100 women were raped.
“Moussa Dadis Camara wants to show to the world that he has nothing to do with this affair and if one can blame him for anything it was simply because he was president of the republic when these facts occurred,” said his lawyer, Jean-Baptiste Haba.
“He said he was morally responsible for what happened but with regard to criminal responsibility, it has nothing to do with him.”
Under the legal system, an indictment does not automatically lead to a trial and investigations continue. Haba said the charges did not prevent his client from returning to Guinea.
In June, Camara formed an alliance with the head of Guinea’s main opposition party to run against Conde for leadership of the country, Africa’s top bauxite producer.
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, visited Guinea this month in connection with the case.
Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Additional reporting by Saliou Samb; Writing by Daniel Flynn, editing by Larry King