Police Forcefully Free Detained Commander Oumar Samaké


The Nation (Nairobi)

By Kemo Cham

Angry police officers on Friday stormed a prison facility in Bamako, Mali and freed a top commander.

The officer had been detained in connection to the 2020 deadly anti-government protests that led to the toppling of the then regime of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

Mr Oumar Samaké, commander of the Special Anti-Terrorist Force (Forsat), an elite unit within the Malian police force, is wanted by the authorities for his role in the brutal suppression of the protests. He was placed under arrest on the orders of a court in Bamako on Friday.

Hundreds of protesting police officers from the unit marched towards the Bamako Central Prison, where he was being held, and freed him.

The protesters blocked the streets leading to the prison.

The arrest of Commander Samaké was part of efforts by the transition government to fulfil demands by pro-democracy campaigners to bring to justice perpetrators of human rights violations in relation to the protests.

For three days - 10, 11 and 12 July 2020 - protesters occupied the streets of Bamako as the dying regime of Keita desperately struggled to survive by deploying armed security forces on the streets.

According to official accounts, there were 14 deaths resulting from the clashes with security forces. But the political opposition at the time put the death toll at 23.

Investigations into the killings were opened in December 2020.

Police leaders defended the action of their men on Friday, arguing that Mr Samaké's detention didn't follow the right procedure.

Judicial officials however, say that the investigations against Mr Samake will continue.

Mali is under a political transition led by a military president who is under pressure to organise elections and transfer power to a civilian administration by February next year.

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