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Mali’s jailed coup leader on hunger strike

Bamako - Mali's jailed coup leader Amadou Sanogo has gone on hunger strike to protest his transfer from the capital to a prison in the south of the country, his lawyer said on Thursday.

“To protest against his transfer, which is in fact a deportation to Selingue, my client began a hunger strike on Wednesday evening,” Toure Harouna told AFP.

Mali's jailed coup leader Amadou Sanogo. Picture: Luc Gnago. Credit: REUTERS

A close aide to Judge Yaya Karembe, who jailed Sanogo in late 2013, said the transfer to the southern city of Selingue, 140 kilometres south of Bamako, was “perfectly legal”.

Sanogo, whose March 2012 coup plunged the west African country into chaos, and several of his men are on trial for crimes including assassinations and abductions.

A week after his arrest in November 2013, a mass grave was discovered near Bamako with 21 bodies thought to be those of high-ranking soldiers loyal to toppled president Amadou Toumani Toure.

Four other bodies were found two weeks later, as investigators interrogated Sanogo and some of his allies.

Sanogo's coup toppled what had been heralded as one of the region's most stable democracies and precipitated a crisis in which al-Qaeda-inspired groups seized control of the north until a French-led military operation forced them out.

In the months after the coup and a failed counter-coup in April 2012, Sanogo's then-headquarters in Kati were the scene of abuses and killings carried out against soldiers seen as loyal to Toure.

Politicians, journalists and civil society leaders were also victims of the junta's brutality.

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