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Mali drops coup charges against ex-prime minister, radio host

Malian activist Mohamed Youssouf Bathily also known as Ras Bath leaves the Maison de la Presse (Press House) in Bamako on August 1, 2018   -  
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ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP or licensors


Mali's Supreme Court on Monday confirmed that the charges against several personalities, including a former prime minister and a star radio host, accused since December of preparing a coup d'état with mysterious outlines, had been dropped.

"The court has deliberated. It has rejected the appeal of the public prosecutor" lodged against a decision to drop the proceedings taken in March by the Bamako Court of Appeal, Cheick Oumar Konaré, the lawyer for two of the defendants, told AFP.

The five detained personalities, including the activist and radio host Mohamed Youssouf Bathily known as "Ras Bath", were released on Monday afternoon after nearly four months in detention, an AFP correspondent noted at the Central Prison in Bamako.

In addition to Ras Bath, the detainees were Vital Robert Diop, general manager of the Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU, an organization that bets on horse races and games of chance), Aguibou Tall, a manager of an agency working on access to telecommunications and half-brother of former Prime Minister Boubou Cissé, and two senior executives of the Treasury (State Finance), Mamadou Koné and Souleymane Kansaye.

The sixth person of concern in the case was Boubou Cissé, the last head of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's government before he was overthrown by the military in August 2020.

By virtue of his rank, he appeared in the case as the possible instigator of this alleged new coup.

An arrest warrant was issued for him in late 2020, but he was not arrested. His relatives said he was "in a safe place" in Bamako.

"This decision by the Supreme Court puts a definitive end to this sinister case, and hopefully to the unnecessary persecution and attempts to undermine our honor and dignity as part of an imaginary plot," he reacted in a statement.

"The deliberation of the Supreme Court is without appeal so this case is over," said his lawyer, Kassoum Tapo.

This case, revealed in December with a series of arrests by the General Directorate of State Services (DGSE, Malian intelligence), has caused great perplexity given the few details revealed by the justice system, the personalities of those involved and the surprising nature of a possible attempt at destabilization, while the military has a grip on power since the putsch that overthrew President Keita.

In early March, the court of appeals ordered that the charges be dropped and that "all the defendants" be released immediately in this so-called "plot against the government of the Republic. The prosecutor's office appealed.


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