46 Ivorian soldiers pardoned by junta depart Mali

© Stringer, AFP

Forty-six Ivorian soldiers detained in Mali since July departed the capital Bamako on Saturday a day after being pardoned by Mali's junta leader, an airport official and a diplomatic source told AFP.

The Ivorian soldiers, whose detention triggered a bitter diplomatic row between Mali and Ivory Coast, were arrested on July 10, 2022, after arriving in Bamako.

Mali accused them of being mercenaries, while Ivory Coast and the United Nations say they were flown in to provide routine backup security for the German contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission.

On December 30, a Malian court sentenced the 46 soldiers to 20 years in prison, while three women among the original 49 arrested, who had already been freed in September, received death sentences in absentia.

They were convicted of an "attack and conspiracy against the government" and of seeking to undermine state security, public prosecutor Ladji Sara said at the time.

On Friday, Mali's junta leader Assimi Goita pardoned all 49 troops.

Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe mediated in the row and had paid a "friendly working visit" to Bamako on Wednesday.

Diplomatic efforts


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