Guinea frees ex-leader’s son accused of drugs trade


Guinea has released the son of former president Lansana Conte, held for the past 17 months on accusations of narcotics trafficking and named by the United States as a drugs “kingpin”, sources said.

“Ousmane Conte was freed last night. He is at home,” an associate of Conte who declined to be identified told Reuters.

A gendarmerie source also confirmed his release.

Conte, whose father ruled Guinea for 24 years until his death in December 2008, was arrested two months later by the junta that came to power. The army officer confessed to being involved in the drugs business but said he was not a ringleader.

U.S. President Barack Obama in June named Conte as one of five individuals suitable for sanctions such as asset freezes under the U.S. Kingpin Act targeting foreign drug traffickers.

It was not immediately clear whether Conte’s release was provisional or definitive.

Guinea is currently between rounds of a presidential election intended to hand the West African state back to civilian rule.

Anti-narcotics officials say West Africa with its weak crime fighting and other institutional structures is being used increasingly by traffickers as a hub for bringing illegal drugs into Europe.