CONAKRY, Guinea, August 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Mr Issiaga BANGOURA and Mr Ibrahima Sory TOURE were arrested and imprisoned in Conakry, capital of Guinea, on 16 April 2013 and 19 April 2013 respectively. Defence counsel for both men has repeatedly denounced their arbitrary arrest, their illegal detention, the lack of a fair trial, the absence of an impartial and independent judiciary, and the violation of the rights of the defendants.
Recent events in Guinea have reinforced these concerns.
Both men were detained on baseless allegations of "passive corruption". Despite no evidence against them ever being produced, the investigating judge (juge d'instruction) complied with the guidelines of the Attorney General and systematically refused without reason, applications for their release.
On 23 July 2013, the investigating judge finally accepted an application to release Messrs BANGOURA and TOURÉ, but did so with the inclusion of a USD 350,000 bail; a disproportionate and absurd amount in the Republic of Guinea. Furthermore, the bail was asked for in US Dollars, something that is unprecedented in Guinea and testament to the decision's lack of standing.
Following further appeals against these unfounded and illegal decisions, the Guinean Court of Appeal in Conakry (la Chambre d'accusation), comprising three judges, ruled on 6 August 2013. The Court of Appeal found that not only did the case against Messrs BANGOURA and TOURÉ contain nullified and outdated statements but the investigating judge's decisions had displayed his "frustrations and errors". Accordingly, the Court of Appeal ruled that no obstacles of fact or law existed that should prevent the immediate release of Messrs BANGOURA and TOURÉ.
Less than 24 hours later, on 7 August 2013, the Guinean Minister of Justice, Christian Sow, an executive member of Alpha Condé's government, intervened personally in the case. Rejecting the decision of three independent and impartial judges, he presented a submission to Guinea's Supreme Court, whose president is chosen by Alpha Condé, to suspend the release of Messrs BANGOURA and TOURÉ and cancel the decision of the Court of Appeal.
Through these actions, it is clear that the executive body of the Guinean government has no respect for the rule of law and no support for an independent judiciary. Judges sitting in the Court of Appeal do not have freedom to decide on the merits of individual cases and are not free of political control.
The defence counsels for Messrs BANGOURA and TOURÉ are obliged to draw attention to the Government of Guinea's continued contravention of its own Criminal Procedure Code as well as the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the United Nations, and the African Charter of Human Rights. They have now gone directly against the decision of the justice system of Guinea, demonstrating their total disregard for the rule of law.
In the meantime, two innocent men continue to be detained as economic hostages and judicial victims of a State that is utilising them as a political tool in its case to justify the cancellation of mining licenses.
Ahead of legislative elections, scheduled for 24 September 2013, the international community should be rightly concerned of a State that is prepared to interfere openly in the independent functioning of its judicial process.
SOURCE The Office of Rachel Lindon