A court in Mali’s capital Bamako ended the trial of former coup leader Amadou Sanogo Monday. Sanogo was accused of involvement in the killings of 21 soldiers during a 2012 coup led by him. The court also ended proceedings against 15 other defendants, citing a 2019 reconciliation law offering amnesty for specific crimes committed during the coup.
Sanogo’s 2012 coup ousted then-President Amadou Toumani Touré. The coup led to a rebel takeover in the northern part of Mali and eventually Sanogo’s government bowed to pressure from other countries in West Africa and stepped aside. Sanogo was arrested in December 2013. In the same month bodies of soldiers believed to have been loyal to Touré were found in a mass grave. The trial of Sanogo on charges of complicity in kidnapping and assassination began in November 2016.
Rights groups applauded the process and referred to the trials as a step towards tackling impunity in the country. In January last year, a court ordered the temporary release of Sanogo and 12 other defendants as the case was ongoing. Sanogo had at the time served six years in detention. The decision to release him, coupled with the delay in commencing the trial, began to cast doubts on the ability of the authorities to deliver justice to the families of the murdered soldiers.
The decision brings an end to the case against Sanogo unless an appeal is filed. It has drawn criticism from rights groups.