Mali’s junta leader on Friday pardoned all 49 Ivorian soldiers whose arrest in July triggered a bitter diplomatic row, a government spokesman said, just a week after the courts sentenced them.
“Colonel Assimi Goita… granted a pardon with full remission of sentences to the 49 Ivorians convicted by the Malian justice system”, said a statement from government spokesman Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, the minister for territorial administration and decentralisation.
On December 30, 46 soldiers were sentenced to 20 years in prison, while three women among the original 49, who had already been freed in early September, received death sentences.
The trial opened in the capital Bamako on December 29 and concluded the following day.
The court proceedings came in the run-up to a January 1 deadline set by West African leaders for Mali to release the soldiers or face sanctions.
The Ivorians were convicted of an “attack and conspiracy against the government” and of seeking to undermine state security, public prosecutor Ladji Sara said in a statement at the time.