By Ifeanyi Nwoko
Abuja, Nov. 11, 2020 The ECOWAS Court on Wednesday ordered the immediate release of 12 former members of the National Committee for the Recovery of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDRE) of Mali.
The court also ordered the payment of 20 million CFA francs to each of them as compensation for the violation of their fundamental human rights by the Republic of Mali.
Delivering a ruing, the judge rapporteur Gberi-Be Ouattara, held that the Respondent, the Republic of Mali was liable for violating the rights of Captain Issa Tangara, and 11 others, including Gen. Amadou Haya Sanogo.
It held that their rights to be tried within reasonable time, fair trial, presumption of innocence, liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention were violated
However, the Court rejected the Applicants’ claim for the violation of their right to human dignity describing it as unfounded.
The Respondent was ordered to stop the violations and submit a report on the implementation/execution of the judgment to the Court within six (6) months.
The Court equally ordered the Republic of Mali to bear all costs.
Counsels Issa Coulibaly and Mariam Diawara representing the Applicants in suit no ECW/CCJ/CCJ/20/19 filed before the Court on May 3, 2019 averred that the Applicants’ who are former members of the CNRDRE were victims of rights violations and sued for 500 million CFA francs as individual damages for the prejudice suffered.
Counsels submitted that the Applicants were indicted for various offenses including kidnapping, assassination and complicity in 2013 and that the pre-trial process was marred by irregularities amounting to the violations.
They also submitted that the Applicants were detained over three years before their case file was transferred to the general prosecutor from the cabinet of the investigative judge and that they were in detention over five years without a date for judgment or sentence.
On their part, Counsel to the Respondent, Mr Issaka Keita urged the Court to reject the Applicants’ claims arguing that the interim order for the Applicants’ committal pending the hearing of the matter on its merit did not constitute rights violation.
Moreover, he averred that the national court has ordered another expert’s report on the findings at the request of the Applicants and that no criminal sentence has been ordered.
Mr Keita further argued that the Applicants were not victims of arbitrary detention because of the complexity and criminal nature of their case (bordering on kidnapping, assassination and complicity) pending before a national court.
The Counsel therefore urged the Court to declare the allegations of violations as non-established and the reliefs sought by the Applicants as unfounded.
The matter was adjudicated by Justices Edward Amoako Asante, Gberi-Be Ouattara and Dupe Atoki.