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Malian court summons coup leader Sanogo


Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-10-31

Mali's General Amadou Sanogo, who led last year's coup against the government, has been summoned to court in the capital Bamako over alleged violence involving men under his command, officials said on Thursday.

The soldier who led a coup that ousted Mali's government and paved the way for a sweeping Islamist offensive has been summoned to appear in court over alleged violence involving men under his command, police and judicial sources said Thursday.

A judicial source said the intention was to question Amadou Sanogo about "the deaths in the last mutiny against him", adding that he would also be questioned "on all violence in recent times" of which his men have been accused.

"The police on Thursday received a summons from the Malian courts for General Amadou Sanogo," said a source at a police station in Bamako.

"According to the procedure, the notice shall be addressed to the Malian Ministry of Defence, which, in turn, will inform General Sanogo of the summons."

It was not immediately clear when the soldier was due to appear in court.

Sanogo was controversially promoted from captain to lieutenant-general in August, prompting fellow ex-junta members also seeking promotion to mutiny earlier this month at his former headquarters, a barracks near the capital Bamako, and forcing the army to intervene.

The bodies of three missing soldiers were subsequently discovered in and around the Kati barracks, relatives told AFP.

Around 20 officers, including Sanogo's former deputy, were arrested.

Sanogo led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 last year, upending what had been considered one of west Africa's flagship democracies.

The mutiny precipitated the fall of northern Mali to Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda, but a military intervention by French and African troops in January chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

The coup also deepened a schism in the army between the Red Berets, loyal to Toure, and the Green Berets, who were broadly pro-junta.

Sanogo was implicated in the disappearances of Red Berets after a failed counter-coup on April 30 last year.

In the months that followed the March coup, the Kati barracks was the site of numerous atrocities allegedly committed by his men against military considered loyal to the ousted president.

Sanogo has since moved from Kati to the capital and Mali's new president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has vowed that Bamako is "no longer going to live in fear of Kati".

Once a US-trained English instructor to his fellow Malian officers, Sanogo comes from Segou, Mali's third-largest city on the Niger River and 240 kilometres (150 miles) from Bamako.

His coup was sparked by soldiers' anger over their rout at the hands of well-armed Tuareg rebels seeking independence for their homeland in the north.

Demoralised and under-equipped, the mutineers slammed Toure's regime for its incompetence in the face of the rebellion by the disenfranchised desert nomads, which has simmered for decades.

Sanogo, with a green beret perched on his shaved head, slightly pockmarked cheeks and a hoarse, raspy voice, promised in several television appearances to hand power to a civilian government.

Two weeks later he signed an agreement with mediators from the ECOWAS regional bloc to put in place an interim government, and Dioncounda Traore was appointed as its president.

But his retreat appeared to be a facade as he continued to order arrests of politicians, journalists, soldiers and those seen as close to the former regime.

As Bamako remained fragile in the wake of the coup, the Tuareg, allied with Islamists, seized the northern triangle of the bow-shaped nation, an area larger than France.

However, the unlikely alliance between the secular separatists and the Islamists crumbled and the Tuareg were driven out of key positions, leaving the vast arid zone in the hands of extremists who imposed a brutal interpretation of sharia Islamic law.

Citizens were flogged, had their hands amputated and were stoned to death as punishments for alleged transgressions.

In May last year, Sanogo and his former junta were granted a general amnesty and the soldier received the status of former head of state and all the accompanying benefits, as mediators attempted to clear a political logjam.

A month later this status was revoked, but Sanogo was appointed as head of a committee on army reform by a transitional government keen to get his blessing for nationwide elections.


Date created : 2013-10-31

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