Guinea court charges minister over stadium massacre

Guinean judges have charged a minister in connection with the 2009 Conakry Stadium massacre in which at least 157 protesters were killed, a judicial source said on Saturday.

Lieutenant-Colonel Claude Pivi was charged on Thursday with several counts of murder, rape, pillaging and arson by the three judges in charge of the case, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Pivi denied the charges and is due to appear in court again next week.

On September 28, 2009, tens of thousands people had gathered at the main stadium in the capital Conakry to protest against the junta led by Moussa Dadis Camara.

Security forces opened fire and mowed protesters down, killing at least 157. Women were raped, hundreds of people were wounded and dozens are still missing.

Pivi was not at the stadium that day but the judges accuse him of masterminding the deadly crackdown that continued in the following days.

Claude Pivi was a leading figure in the junta and he is now in charge of presidential security for current leader Alpha Conde, who was elected in November 2010.

Local and international rights groups have welcomed the first indictments issued in recent weeks against senior junta leaders by the special panel of judges.

"This is a first victory for the plaintiffs and more general for the struggle against impunity in Guinea," senior local rights campaigner Thierno Sow said, quoted in a statement by the International Federation for Human Rights.

The current government has been criticised for not taking sufficient action against the suspected masterminds of the stadium massacre.

Camara seized power in 2008 when longtime strongman Lansana Conte died. He ruled for close to a year before being forced into exile by an assassination attempt.