Mali court drops case against newspaper editor

Tue Apr 30, 2013 12:46pm EDT

* Editor published open letter criticising coup leader

* Charged with inciting revolt

* Arrest showed junta's lingering influence

BAMAKO, April 30 (Reuters) - A court in Mali threw out a case against a newspaper editor who was arrested after publishing an article criticising the leader of last year's military coup.

Boukary Daou was detained on March 6 and charged with inciting revolt after an open letter in his Le Republicain newspaper accused Captain Amadou Sanogo of taking a large salary while leaving his soldiers poorly equipped.

Sanogo headed a putsch that toppled President Amadou Toumani Toure.

The editor's arrest by intelligence services demonstrated the coup leaders' continuing control over state security even after they officially handed power back to a civilian administration.

The presiding judge said on Tuesday the authorities had failed to follow proper procedure and the case was therefore invalid.

"I pay homage to my country's legal system, which has just rendered justice through a sane, clear and correct application of the law. It has proved its independence by voiding the case against my client," Daou's lawyer Hamidou Diabaté said.

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist fighters took advantage of the power vacuum caused by the March 2012 coup to seize the northern two-thirds of Mali.

The letter published by Daou said Malian soldiers fighting the Islamist rebels in the desert north were angry about their lack of equipment and rations, while military leaders in Bamako were living in comfort on high salaries.

It said Sanogo, who was given the job of overseeing military reform by an interim government, was getting about 4 million CFA francs ($8,000) a month.

Most of Mali's 16 million people scrape by on less than two dollars a day. ($1 = 500.7300 CFA francs) (Reporting by Adama Diarra; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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