Military General Amadou Haya Sanogo who led last year’s military coup in Mali has been arrested and charged with kidnapping, hours after he was forcibly escorted from his home in the capital.
Wednesday’s arrest indicates that the government of Mali’s newly elected president is not afraid to stand up to Sanogo, who led the March 2012 coup, and has been accused of systematically torturing and executing those who questioned his rise to power.
“Sanogo has been inculpated for complicity in kidnapping. Right now that is the only charge,” said the country’s chief prosecutor Daniel Tessougue, who was reached by telephone on Wednesday.
“He could be charged with other crimes later.”
The General is said to have tortured and killed soldiers who did not bow to him, some say that victims were tied up, beaten with sticks and gun butts, kicked in the head and genitals, stabbed in their extremities and burned with lighters according to the Human Rights Watch.
In August, the country held its first election since the coup, electing a new leader whose administration has not shied away from confronting the powerful and much-feared Sanogo.
Despite stepping down and handing control to a civilian administration, Sanogo remained a powerful force in Mali for much of 2012, and many believe he was calling the shots.
Quick rise to power
Most Malians had never heard of Sanogo last spring, when a mutiny broke out at a military garrison, located just miles from the presidential palace.
The soldiers asked Sanogo, then an army captain, to be their leader, and together they marched on the palace, ending two decades of democracy in a matter of hours.
The country’s elected leader fled, and Sanogo appointed himself president.
Although forced to step down just weeks later, he still held the reins of power, and the country’s transitional leaders were afraid to cross him.
In May, protesters allied with Sanogo broke through the security cordon at the presidential compound, and beat interim leader Dioncounda Traore.
Although Sanogo denied involvement in the attack, it was seen by many as Sanogo’s reminder to the country’s civilian administration of who was really in charge.
Soldiers that didn’t bow to him were picked up, tortured and killed, according to Human Rights Watch.
“The Malian judge and judiciary have shown that no one, not even a four-star general, is above the law. This is a very encouraging step for the victims of the alleged crimes committed by those loyal to Sanogo and for Mali’s struggle to address the culture of impunity,” said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch.