CONAKRY, (Reuters) – The son of Guinea’s late president said he had been part of a drug smuggling network in a televised confession filmed after an all-night interrogation.
Ousmane Conte, son of veteran ruler Lansana Conte who died in December, was arrested on Monday in a probe into drug smuggling launched by the junta which seized power after his father’s death.
“Yes, I am involved in this drug business, I admit it. As I said during my questioning, I admit to being in this network, but I am not the godfather,” Conte said in comments broadcast on state television in the West African country late on Wednesday.
The army officer appeared ill and lay on a bed in the capital’s biggest military camp. He was attached to a drip.
Officials said the interrogation lasted all night. It was not clear whether Conte was unwell before the interrogation.
Human rights activists have welcomed the arrests of the late president’s son and his brother-in-law as a sign of order being restored, but have warned against the use of excessive force or a crackdown that undermines the rule of law.
Guinea, the world’s top exporter of the aluminium ore bauxite, is one of several West African countries that have become transit points to Europe for Colombian cocaine.
The late president’s brother in law, Saturin Bangoura, confessed before television cameras on Monday to receiving tens of thousands of dollars from a “Colombian partner”.
Guinea’s military rulers, widely criticised for their coup, and are under pressure to restore civilian rule and have promised polls before 2010 as well as to fight drug trafficking and corruption.
Moussa Tiegboro Camara, an army captain appointed by the junta as secretary of state for special services and the campaign against drug trafficking and crime, told state television that Conte’s interrogation had lasted all night.
“He is not in a good state,” Dr Rene Zoumanigui, the doctor treating Conte, told state television.
Many prisoners in Guinea’s jails and detention centres endure terrible conditions, with many suffering from malnutrition and dehydration, medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said in a report this week.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has in the past accused Guinean security forces of torture, among other rights abuses.
Several members of the junta have been arrested on suspicion of coup plotting, and campaigners have expressed concern that the drugs investigation could be used to settle political scores or extort money.