Son of late Guinea leader confesses to drugs link

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.

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