Mali: Release of Mohamed Aly Ag Wadoussène: peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved through impunity

Press release
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Bamako, Paris, 9 December 2014 –– The Malian Authorities have freed alleged terrorists, Mohamed Aly Ag Wadoussène and Haïba Ag Achérif, in exchange for French hostage, Serge Lazarévic. -The prisoner swap also -saw the release of known perpetrators of grave human rights abuse, Oussama Ben Gouzzi and Habib Ould Mahouloud. Whilst welcoming the liberation of Serge Lazarevic, our organizations are outraged by the liberation of four alleged perpetrators of human rights abuse and call upon Malian authorities to stop the bleeding.

On the eve of the Memorial Day for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the midst of Human Rights week, the Malian authorities have liberated yet other authors of human rights abuse.

Mohamed Aly Ag Wadoussène, the subject of two criminal cases – the first in trial phase and the second at the preliminary stage – is a deserter from the Malian National Guard (2009 contingent). Arrested by state security forces on 10 December 2011 in Gao and taken into custody in March 2012, he faces charges of terrorism, conspiracy, - hostage-taking and illegal confinement-. Wadoussène is the principal instigator of the kidnapping of Serge Lazarévic and Philippe Verdon in Hombori on 24 November 2011. Phillipe Verdon was murdered in March 2013. On 16 June 2014, Mohamed Aly Ag Wadoussène escaped from the Central Remand Center of Bamako with Haïba Ag Acherif. During this escape he killed the warder, Warrent Officer Kola Sofara, at point blank range. Mr Sofara’s family was received by the AMDH on 24 June 2014 and have demanded the opening of an investigation to shed light on the murder. As such, proceedings were instigated in respect of his “escape” and entrusted to Bamako Commune III Court of First Instance.

On 24 July 2014, Mohamed Aly Ag Wadoussène was again arrested by security forces in Hamdallaye ACI in Bamako. Since this time he had been imprisoned at state security facilities. At the beginning of this week, Wadoussène was released. A few days earlier, on 4 December 2014, -Haïba- Ag Achérif, Oussama Ben Gouzzi (Tunisia) and Habib Ould Mahouloud (Western Sahara) had also been released by the Malian Appeals Court.

In the absence of any other hostages, the Malian authorities are now free to firmly engage in the fight against impunity and prioritize the needs of victims. The perpetrators of war crimes and crime against humanity must once again be arrested and judged for their actions.

- Our organisations emphasise that whilst we understand the need to find ways to free hostages, we consider that such solutions should not violate victims’ rights and the principle of checks and balances in Mali.

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