Guinea: What prison life is like for former president Condé’s ex-ministers

By Diawo Barry, Marième Soumaré

Posted on Thursday, 7 July 2022 10:48
Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, in Conakry, April 2015. ©Youri Lenquette for Jeune Afrique.

Incarcerated since 6 April, Ibrahima Kassory Fofana, Mohamed Diané and Oyé Guilavogui are being held in Conakry prison. We bring you more on the conditions. 

Prosecuted for alleged misappropriation and corruption, three of Alpha Condé’s ex-ministers have been in prison since 6 April 2022. One of their co-defendants, former hydrocarbons minister Zakaria Koulibaly, was released on 20 April, after posting bail of 3bn Guinean francs ($345,460).

According to our research, former prime minister Ibrahima Kassory Fofana as well as former government members Mohamed Diané (defence) and Oyé Guilavogui (environment) share the same cell in the central prison of Coronthie, located in the town of Kaloum.

A fourth prisoner, a senior official in the Guinean administration, has recently joined them. Souleymane Traoré, former director-general of the road maintenance fund, was placed under a detention order on 23 February following an investigation by the Cour de Répression des Infractions Economiques et Financières (CRIEF) into the acquisition of a property complex.

Mattresses on the floor

The former ministers’ cell, locked between 9 pm and 6 am, is reopened during the day to allow the inmates to move around the prison compound, where they can exercise. There are mattresses on the floor of this large, compartmentalised room. The ex-government members also have shared sanitary facilities. Although they are allowed to receive books, they can only watch television in the warden’s office.

They can receive visitors in a small reception room that has been made available to them. However, members of their entourage complain about their lack of privacy, especially during discussions with their lawyers, which can be overheard. Some of those arrested have been able to see their personal doctors, who have access to the prison premises.

On 31 May, the CRIEF – created by transitional leader Mamadi Doumbouya – rejected the request for release filed by Ibrahima Kassory Fofana and Oyé Guilavogui’s lawyers, who have recently referred the case to the United Nations’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Future hearings

The former ministers are charged with embezzlement when Alpha Condé was in power. Some opposition leaders, such as Cellou Dalein Diallo, the former 2020 presidential candidate who left the country several weeks ago, are also in this special court’s sights. All of the accused were heard by the investigating judge as part of the judicial investigation: Kassory Fofana and Guilavogui on 29 June and their co-accused Mohamed Diané on 30 June.

Invited to take part in the “consultation framework” chaired by prime minister Mohamed Béavogui, the ex-ministers’ party founded by Condé, the Rassemblement du Peuple de Guinée (RPG-Arc-en-ciel) has set the release of detainees as a precondition for any discussions. The party also boycotted the dialogue that opened on 28 June.

In a letter addressed to territorial administration minister Mory Condé, the RPG leadership demanded “the release of the party members of [its] political persuasion”, incarcerated “without charges based on facts” and called for “an end to the persecution and questioning of leaders and actors of the political class”.

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