A GUINEAN paramilitary police officer has been slapped with the first rape charges over the 2009 Conakry Stadium massacre during which at least 157 protesters were killed, rights groups say.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomed the move as a strong signal that justice could finally be served to the more than 100 women raped during the tragedy.
The suspect was detained and charged on April 30 and appeared before the judges in the west African country's capital on Tuesday, the FIDH and its partner organisation in Guinea OGDH said.
"Our organisations welcomed this court decision, which is a major step forward in this matter since it is the first such legal move affecting a perpetrator of the mass sexual violence committed in Conakry stadium on 28 September 2009," they said.
According to a United Nations report, at least 109 women were raped inside or in the vicinity of the stadium that day.
The suspect who faces the court charges is accused of "having raped a women within the stadium compound, with the complicity of two other gendarmes", the joint statement said.
A special panel of judges has been set up to investigate the massacre. Six Guinean members of the military have so far been charged but no trial has yet begun.
Tens of thousands of people had gathered in Conakry stadium to protest against the junta led by Moussa Dadis Camara.
The security forces opened fire and mowed protesters down, killing at least 157. Hundreds were wounded and dozens are still missing.