Mali court releases jailed junta leader pending trial on paratrooper deaths


A court in the Mali capital Bamako has ordered the release of General Amadou Haya Sanogo and his co-accused pending their trial which has been postponed to another session. They are charged of kidnapping, murder, and complicity in the murder of 21 Malian paratroopers whose bodies were discovered in a mass grave in 2013.

In response, Amnesty International’s West Africa researcher Ousmane Diallo said:“This provisional release of General Amadou Haya Sanogo is casting doubt upon authorities’ commitment to deliver justice and truth to the families of the 21 murdered soldiers.”

“It has been almost eight years since the bodies of the soldiers were discovered in a mass grave, and justice remains elusive. The trial of Sanogo and his co-accused was due to resume earlier this month but was postponed again at the last minute. Now the victims’ families have received a further blow with the news that Sanogo will walk free while his trial date pends,” continued Diallo.

The murder was committed when the Sanogo-led junta came to power following a coup against President Amadou Toumani Touré on March 22, 2012.

The 21 soldiers’ deaths occurred during the failed countercoup by the Paratroopers, reputedly close to President Amadou Toumani Touré, on May 30 to June 01, 2012.

Among the prospective witnesses in the murder case is General Ibrahim Dahirou Dembelé who was appointed Minister of Defence and Army Veterans in May 2019, and Chief of Army Staff at the time of the commission of the crimes.

A new reconciliation law was promulgated in Mali last year, which grants amnesty to a certain number of crimes although it explicitly excludes crimes under international law. Amnesty International is concerned that in practice, this law could be used to block prosecutions for serious human rights violations, for political reasons. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)