Mali: General Sanogo arrested and taken into custody in the “Missing Red Berets” case

Press release
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FIDH – International Federation for Human RIghts - AMDH - Malian Association for Human Rights

In the morning of 27 November 2013, General Haya Sanogo, former head of the military junta, was arrested at his home by security forces. He was brought before the investigating judge who charged him with “complicity in kidnapping” and placed him under a detention warrant for his presumed responsibility in the forced disappearance of at least 21 “Red Beret” soldiers in April and May of 2012.

This is a victory for the families of the victims, as well as for the Malian judiciary in this highly sensitive case. It’s a strong signal for the fight against impunity and proves that no one is above the law. FIDH and AMDH, who support the victims, and who are preparing to become civil parties along them in the case, will help shed light on the fate of the disappeared declared Moctar Mariko, AMDH President and lawyer representing the victims.

Further, around 1 p.m. on 26 November 2013, the son of Yaya Karembé, the investigating judge in charge of the case of the “Missing Red Berets”, was attacked on his way to his high school, located in the ACI-2000 neighbourhood in Bamako, by three individuals armed with edged weapons. The young man, who suffered injuries to his knee and who was sprayed with tear gas before his attackers stole his motorcycle, is out of danger. He was treated at the Luxembourg Hospital in Hamdallaye, and was released later that afternoon.

FIDH and AMDH condemn this aggression as it could be an act of intimidation connected to this criminal investigation, which involves some twenty soldiers summoned by the judge, most notably General Haya Sanogo, who had not until now responded to the summons to appear before the court.

At this crucial stage of the judicial system in Mali, it is vital that the security of investigating judges and their families is fully ensured, and reinforced in this highly sensitive case, in order for justice to take its course peacefully and shielded from all pressure. That is to also say that all those summoned to testify regarding their responsibility in these crimes must appear, declared Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Legal Action Group Coordinator and international lawyer of the victims.

On 30 April 2012, Red Berets loyal to President Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT), who had been overthrown on 22 March 2012 by a coup d’état lead by Amadou Haya Sanogo, tried to retake power. After three days of fighting, the pro-Sanogo forces arrested, detained, and tortured many pro-ATT soldiers. According to the investigations conducted by members of FIDH, AMDH and other human rights organisations, at least 21 soldiers (the majority of them Red Berets) detained at the Kati Soundiata Keita military base - headquarters of the Sanogo forces – were taken away in military trucks on 2 May 2012 and have since disappeared. Additionally, Red Berets, during the attempted counter coup d’état, had attacked the Office of Radio and Television of Mali (ORTM) during which several Green Beret soldiers (loyal to Sanogo) were killed.

At the beginning of November 2013, investigating judge Yaya Karembé was assigned to open a criminal investigation against 20 soldiers and officers, one of whom is General Sanogo, for their presumed responsibility in the arrest and enforced disappearance of these Red Berets (see this article [in French]). These events had taken place in the aftermath of a failed attempt to remove the military junta headed by General Sanogo who came to power a month earlier by a coup d’état. General Sanogo had been summoned to appear in this case by Karembe on 18 November 2013, but failed to appear.

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