CONAKRY, Guinea - Guinea's former chief of the presidential guard said yesterday that he shot the country's military strongman earlier this month because the junta leader wanted him to take the blame for a massacre by troops of pro-democracy demonstrators in September.
Lt. Abubakar "Toumba" Diakite told Radio France International that he shot Capt. Moussa "Dadis" Camara on Dec. 3 because the junta leader betrayed the democracy of the West African nation.
"I shot him because at a certain point, there was a complete betrayal, in my view, a total betrayal of democracy," Diakite said in his first broadcast comments since the assassination attempt. "He tried to blame me for the events of Sept. 28. I will not turn myself in, because they do not want the truth to be known. They'd prefer to kill me."
The former presidential guard commander, who is accused of shooting Camara at point-blank range after a dispute, remains at large.
Diakite said Camara ordered the Sept. 28 massacre at a pro-democracy rally where numerous witnesses and several human-rights groups say 157 people were killed. They say soldiers dragged women to the ground and raped them in the open. Junta officials were not immediately available for comment.
A U.N. commission traveled to Guinea to investigate the massacre, and the commissioners interviewed Camara and Diakite. The dispute between the two broke out after Diakite was interrogated, prompting several people close to the junta to say that the altercation centered on which of the two would take the fall for the massacre.
Human-rights groups say Diakite is one of the commanders most responsible for the massacre. Witnesses said they saw him order the killings at the pro-democracy rally. But human-rights groups also hold Camara responsible, given that the presidential guard is ultimately under his command.
Camara is hospitalized in Morocco and has not spoken publicly since the assassination attempt. He had surgery for a head injury, but the extent of his injuries has not been officially disclosed.