Mali sentences 46 Ivorian soldiers to 20 years for plotting against the government

A court in Mali on Friday sentenced 46 soldiers from the Ivory Coast to 20 years in prison for plotting against the government and three others to death in absentia.

Forty-nine Ivorian soldiers were arrested in July at the airport in Bamako, the capital of Mali, three of whom were later released. Their arrests sparked a diplomatic row between neighboring countries and widespread condemnation from regional allies.

Mali’s ruling junta said the soldiers were acting as mercenaries, while Ivory Coast said they were part of a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

They were charged with attempting to undermine state security in August and convicted in a trial that began on Thursday and ended on Friday before a January day. 1 deadline set by West Africa’s main political and economic bloc to release them or face sanctions.

Ivory Coast said its troops were being held hostage and has repeatedly called for their release. The country announced last month that it would withdraw its remaining troops from the UN peacekeeping mission.

One of Africa’s most volatile countries, Mali has for a decade relied on regional allies and peacekeepers to contain Islamist insurgents who have killed thousands and seized large swathes of the central and northern regions.

© Thomson Reuters 2022.

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