Bamako - Four bodies thought to be the remains of soldiers murdered over their allegiance to overthrown Malian president Amadou Toumani Toure have been exhumed in the capital Bamako, judicial sources told AFP on Tuesday.
Yaya Karembe, the judge investigating war crimes committed during a coup in March last year which plunged Mali into chaos, had the bodies dug up at a cemetery in southern Bamako on Monday night, a source close to the judge said.
They were in four separate graves according to the aide, who said the bodies had been located during the interrogation of a soldier arrested over the murder of “red berets” loyal to Toure.
Another source close to the investigation said it was “increasingly clear that the four red berets were murdered and, to cover their tracks, the killers hastily buried them at the cemetery, as if they had died of natural causes”.
Twenty-one bodies found on December 4 in a mass grave near Bamako, were also believed to be red berets.
The discovery came a week after the arrest and detention of Amadou Haya Sanogo, leader of the March 22, 2012 coup against Toure.
The government says Sanogo has been charged with complicity in kidnappings, but a source close to the judge in the case told AFP the charges also include murder, complicity to murder and carrying out kidnappings.
Fifteen people, mainly soldiers from his inner circle, were arrested immediately after him.
Sanogo's coup toppled what had been heralded as one of west Africa's most stable democracies and precipitated a crisis in which al-Qaeda-linked groups seized control of the country's north, enforcing a brutal form of Islamic law until a French-led military intervention forced them out.
On April 30, a group of red berets loyal to Toure staged a failed counter-coup in which about 20 of them were killed by Sanogo's “green berets”. Their bodies were never found.
In the months that followed the coup, Sanogo's then-headquarters in the central town of Kati were the scene of abuses and killings carried out against soldiers seen as loyal to Toure.