Guinea’s ex-military leader Moussa Dadis Camara on Monday denied charges that he was responsible for a 2009 stadium massacre, as he took the stand for the first time in a long-awaited trial.
Camara was the ruler of Guinea when more than 150 people were killed during a pro-democracy rally on Sept. 28, 2009.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered at a stadium in Conakry to press him not to stand in a presidential election the following year.
Many were shot, stabbed, beaten or crushed in a stampede as security forces fired teargas and charged the stadium. An unknown number of women were also raped, according to human rights groups and survivors.
Camara is among 11 men on trial accused of orchestrating the massacre and facing a series of charges include murder, rape, torture and assault.
Camara’s former aide-de-camp Aboubacar Sidiki Diakite, who is also among the accused, has denied the charges and told the court in October that Camara planned and ordered the violent repression of demonstrators.
Camara has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has previously blamed errant soldiers for the bloodshed.
“The events of September 28 were a cleverly orchestrated plot to remove me (from power),” he said in a rambling statement in which he accused former allies of plotting against him.
He did not go into detail on how the events unfolded.
Guinea is now ruled by another military junta that seized power in a coup last year, ousting former president Alpha Conde.