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Mali ex-minister grilled over links to Corsican 'Godfather'

AFP/Farouk Batiche

French police questioned Mali's former defence minister, Soumeylou Maiga, on Friday in connection with a graft probe into a Corsican businessman known as "the godfather of Corsican godfathers", a source close to the case said.

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Maiga was detained Thursday in a suburb west of Paris and questioned on Friday in connection with an investigation into Michel Tomi, 66, often referred to in local media as "the godfather of Corsican godfathers" due to his alleged involvement in mafia activities on the French island.

Magistrates are also looking into Tomi's ties to Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and the purchase of a presidential jet costing €30.5 million ($38 million).

Tomi was charged over several alleged offences in June, including bribing a foreign public official, forgery and the use of forged documents as well as breach of trust.

The Mediterrenean island of Corsica has long been known as an idyllic holiday destination, but in recent years it has also earned a reputation as a hotspot for organised crime and gangland killings as mob bosses vie for control. A spate of high-profile murders has also helped make it notorious for being the "European Capital of Murder".

Maiga is a veteran politician who has also held the jobs of foreign minister and intelligence chief and is considered an ally of Mali's President Keita.

He was named defence minister in 2013 and resigned in May 2014 after the humiliating takeover of the northern Malian city of Kidal by Tuareg rebels that left 50 soldiers dead and 48 wounded.

Mali was thrown into turmoil after a military coup in March 2012. Capitalising on the ensuing unrest, Tuareg separatists allied themselves with Islamist militants and succeeded in wresting control of most of the country's north.

France launched a military intervention in January 2013 to help Mali retake control of its northern territories.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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