International Law/Order

Mali court ends trial of former coup leader Sanogo

A court in the Malian capital of Bamako on Monday ended a much-delayed trial of former coup leader Amadou Sanogo, who was accused of killing 21 elite soldiers in a 2012 putsch.

The court, which did not issue a verdict, also ended proceedings against 15 other defendants, citing a 2019 reconciliation law offering amnesty or pardon for specific crimes committed during the 2012 crisis.

Sanogo, who is a former army captain, and several other plotters staged a military coup against President Amadou Toumani Toure in the Sahel state in 2012, after a rebellion emerged in the country’s north.

But the junta led by Sanogo stepped aside under international pressure after critical northern cities such as Timbuktu and Gao fell to the rebels.

Sanogo was later arrested and then held for six years on charges of killing 21 elite “Red Berets” who opposed the putsch.

Jihadists have since commandeered the northern rebellion, with the violence spreading to central Mali as well as neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger, killing thousands.

A case against Sanogo began in 2016 but stalled. A court then ordered Sanogo’s temporary release last year, which sparked fears among rights defenders that the former putschist would avoid facing trial.

The affair has long irked Mali’s government, with fears that a conviction could stir dissent within army ranks.

Mali’s current government is itself staffed by army figures who in August launched the most recent coup in the unstable country.

Young army officers seized power after weeks of protests against president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, before handing over to an interim government which is meant to govern for 18 months before staging elections.

Coup leader Colonel Assimi Goita is serving as interim vice president.

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