Mali court sentences man to death over U.N. peacekeeper deaths
BAMAKO (Reuters) – A court in Mali has sentenced a man to death over a 2019 attack that killed three United Nations peacekeepers, the peacekeeping mission MINUSMA said on Wednesday without naming the defendant.
Mali, an arid West African country run by a military junta, has been struggling for a decade with an Islamist insurgency that has spread across the wider Sahel region despite costly international efforts to quash it.
U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in Mali since 2013 but their presence has not stopped militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State from attacking villages and towns, army bases and police stations.
The trial centred on an attack on five peacekeepers travelling through the rural commune of Siby in southern Mali, around 50 kilometres from the capital Bamako, on February 22, 2019. Three were killed.
Bamako’s criminal court on Tuesday convicted the man of acts of terrorism, criminal association, murder, robbery and illegal possession of firearms in connection with the Siby attack, MINUSMA said.
Judges imposed the death penalty, which has not been carried out in Mali since a moratorium was placed on executions in 1980.
The MINUSMA statement did not name the convicted man and gave no details about what plea he entered. The court could not be reached for comment.
MINUSMA has deployed over 13,000 troops to contain the violence, which is concentrated in Mali’s north and centre.
The mission has recorded 281 fatalities of MINUSMA personnel, many killed when convoys hit improvised explosive devices planted by the insurgents.
(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Estelle Shirbon and Vin Shahrestani)