Mali : Four former junta leaders arrested in the “Missing Red Berets” case

17/02/2014
Press release
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On 13 and 14 February, four former junta leaders - General Yamoussa Camara, current Chief of Staff of the Malian President; General Sidi Touré, former Director of the State Security; Captain Amadou Konaré, former spokesman for the junta; and lieutenant Tahirou Mariko, former aide-de-camp to Amadou Sanogo - were charged with "complicity to murder" and placed in custody by an investigating judge for their alleged involvement in the murder of 21 red berets in April 2012.

FIDH and AMDH, which are civil parties in the proceedings along with victims’ families, welcome this step forward in the quest for justice and in seeking the truth.

These arrests represent a strong signal in the process of fighting impunity in Mali and it shows that no one is above the law, said Moctar Mariko, AMDH President and lawyer for the victims.

FIDH and AMDH consider progress in legal procedures regarding serious human rights violations in Mali to be a priority in the process of fighting impunity, providing justice to victims, and building sustainable peace. Our organisations provide support to junta victims, such as those affected by the conflict in the north of the country.

“ To ensure the exercise of a serene, equitable and impartial justice, the Malian authorities must ensure the safety of the victims, witnesses, judges, and all stakeholders in charge of these sensitive court proceedings ” , said Patrick Baudouin, Head of FIDH Legal Action Group (LAG).

Background:

On 22 March 2012, President Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) was overthrown by a military coup d’état led by captain Amadou Haya Sanogo who became the leader of the National Committee for Recovering Democracy and Restoring the State (CNRDRE). This Committee remained the supreme authority until Dioncounda Traoré became interim President, in April 2012.

On 30 April 2012, Red Berets loyal to the overthrown President 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, 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.

On 26 July 2012, the Malian prosecutors opened legal proceedings on this Missing Red Berets” case. At the beginning of November 2013, the investigative judge charged 17 soldiers, including Amadou Haya Sanogo. On 27 November 2013, General Amadou Haya Sanogo, was brought before the investigating judge who charged him with “complicity in kidnapping” and placed him under a detention warrant.

On 26 November 2013, FIDH, AMDH and 21 victims’ families of the missing soldiers joined the judicial proceedings as civil parties.

On 3 December 2013, the judge in charge of the judicial inquiry proceeded with the exhumation of 21 bodies in the village of Diago, near Kati. These bodies are believed to be those of the missing Red Berets. On 4 December 2013, FIDH and the AMDH filed a request with the investigating judge for reclassification of charges against the accused, to "assassination and murder".

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