Amadou Sanogo, the man many accuse of sabotaging a decade of democracy in Mail, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with murder.
A contingent of armed soldiers confronted the general at his home and brought him before a judge. Sanogo remains in custody and is likely to also face charges of kidnapping and embezzlement.
Authorities believe Sanogo is behind the deaths of at least six of his fellow soldiers, who were killed after a March 2012 coup in Mali, BBC reported.
Another 23 soldiers loyal to President Amadou Amani Toure are still missing, BBC said.
“For over a year we shed tears of sadness,” said Aminata Diarra, who speaks for a group of wives and parents of the soldiers. “Today they are tears of joy.”
In overthrowing the government, Sanogo said that Mali needed to do more to stop Islamic radicals in the country’s north.
It was shortly after the coup that French and African Union forces stepped in to help disperse the radicals this January.
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Following the intervention and short-lived conflict, Sanogo is said to have carried out kidnappings and torture at his headquarters, Agence France-Presse reported.
A judge ordered Sanogo to answer to charges, but he didn’t respond. Human Rights Watch hailed the judge’s decision as brave while drawing attention to accusations of torture by Sanogo’s troops.
“The courageous work of Malian authorities investigating this prominent case is a significant and encouraging advance for justice in Mali,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The families of the ‘disappeared’ soldiers have endured terrible suffering and deserve to know the fate of their loved ones.”
Mali was one of Africa’s most peaceful nations until the coup. The new government is now trying to regain control of the armed forces while continuing to confront Islamic rebels in the north, Reuters said.
Two French journalists were kidnapped and killed earlier this month in the north.
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