July 9, 2015 / 1:33 AM / 4 years ago

Guinea's ex-junta leader indicted over stadium massacre

CONAKRY (Reuters) - Guinean authorities have indicted former military leader Moussa Dadis Camara over a massacre at a stadium in the capital in 2009 in which soldiers are accused of killing at least 157 people, his lawyer and a spokesman for his party said on Thursday.

File photo of then Captain Moussa Dadis Camara (C), chief of the ruling junta and General Sekouba Konate (R), defence minister and second-in-command of the ruling junta, arrive to pay homage at Martyrs Place in Conakry October 2, 2009, during celebrations commemorating the Republic of Guinea's independence day. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Camara’s indictment could throw into doubt his participation in the election set for Oct. 11 in which he is set to run for the newly created Patriotic Forces for Democracy and Development (FPDD) party 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 against protesters who opposed his candidacy for the presidential election in 2010. Human rights groups and witnesses say at least 100 women were raped.

“The president of our party has in fact been indicted. He confirmed this to me during a telephone conversation that I had with him this afternoon,” Maxime Monimou, spokesman for the FPDD, told Reuters. “He told me that he had a first audience with the judges who read out the charges against him,” he said.

Camara’s lawyer Jean Baptiste Haba confirmed that charges had been brought against him, without giving details. Under the legal system, an indictment does not automatically lead to a trial and investigations continue.

Camara, who is recovering from an assassination attempt, was charged in Burkina Faso where he has lived in exile since resigning the presidency.

In June, he formed an alliance with the head of Guinea’s main opposition party to rival Conde for leadership of the country, Africa’s top bauxite producer.

Haba said the charges would not prevent his client from returning to Guinea.

The U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura welcomed the decision.

“This indictment represents an important step in Guinea’s fight against impunity for the crimes that were perpetrated against unarmed civilians,” she said in a statement.

Prosecutors in Burkina Faso could not be reached for comment. Two Guinean magistrates travelled to the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou on Monday. Last week, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda visited Guinea in connection with the affair.

Additional reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou in Ouagadougou and Nadoun Coulibaly; Writing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Emma Farge; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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