Guinea trial begins for suspected killers of Ebola workers

AP News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2015 8:59 AM

CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — The trial of people accused of killing eight Ebola health workers and journalists opened Monday in a remote region of Guinea.

The trial highlights the challenges health workers faced in this Ebola outbreak that has claimed more than 10,000 lives, mostly in the impoverished West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Around 78 suspects are being tried in the town of N'Nzerekore, 900 kilometers (560 miles) from the capital Conakry, Ministry of Justice spokesman Ibrahima Beavogui said.

The killings happened when a delegation of health care workers, including top health officials from the nearby town, visited Womey last September to raise awareness about how to combat Ebola. They were attacked by a mob armed with knives and stones.

Confronted with an unfamiliar, frightening disease that was ripping through communities, villagers in remote regions often reacted with fear and suspicion, believing that the virus had been brought in by outsiders.

Defense lawyers maintain their clients are not the real perpetrators of the attack, just ordinary residents picked up in military sweeps.

"Soldiers just came to Womey and arrested the innocent while the guilty fled," said defense lawyer Michel Sonomu.

The current Ebola outbreak, which was officially confirmed exactly a year ago.