Guinea’s capital experienced turmoil on Saturday as armed assailants launched an audacious assault on the main prison, leading to the escape of former dictator Moussa “Dadis” Camara and several other inmates.
Although authorities initially reported the prison break, later developments have cast doubt on the nature of Camara’s departure, with his lawyer asserting that he had been kidnapped.
The government’s official statement, released by Prosecutor Yamoussa Conte, announced an investigation into charges of jailbreak and weapons possession against Camara and three other individuals. Nevertheless, Camara’s attorney later refuted the narrative, claiming that her client had not escaped but had been abducted, as clarified by Jacomey Haba, the lawyer representing the former strongman.
In addition to Camara, other detainees managed to flee, including Claude Pivi and Blaise Goumou. All three had been held on charges related to their involvement in a tragic 2009 stadium massacre that resulted in the deaths of 157 individuals.
Justice Minister Charles Alphonse Wright vowed to locate the fugitives and ensure accountability for the attack. His remarks came hours after a heavy exchange of gunfire rocked Conakry’s Kaloum district.
One of the escapees, Moussa Thiegboro Camara, has already been recaptured. Moussa “Dadis” Camara seized power in a 2008 coup d’état following the demise of long-standing dictator Lansana Conte. After surviving an assassination attempt by one of his bodyguards, Camara spent years in exile before returning to Guinea in late 2021.
The 2009 massacre, for which more than a dozen suspects were charged, transpired as Guinean security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators who were protesting Camara’s intention to run for the presidency following his coup.
Guinea’s government had long sought to prevent Camara’s return from exile in Burkina Faso, fearing that it could provoke political instability. However, a subsequent coup in September 2021 brought a military junta to power that welcomed Camara’s return.
Camara testified in court last year, claiming he was asleep during the early stages of the attack and only learned about the demonstrations around 11 a.m.