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S.Africa army death toll in Central Africa rises to 14
by Staff Writers
Cape Town (AFP) April 30, 2013

Court throws out case against Malian editor
Bamako (AFP) April 30, 2013 - A Malian newspaper editor detained for nearly a month after publishing an open letter from disgruntled soldiers was freed Tuesday after the case was declared "null and void".

Boukary Daou spent a month in jail after being arrested in March and charged with "incitement to disobedience" over the letter objecting to the salary earned by Captain Amadou Sanogo, leader of a coup that ousted Mali's government.

Daou's lawyer Hamidou Diabate said the court "found that the case against my client was zero. So, no trial, no conviction -- my client is free."

The media had launched a nationwide strike to protest against the arrest of Daou, the editor of the Republican daily newspaper, with the campaign eventually morphing into a blackout of coverage of government activities.

His lawyers had asked for the case to be thrown out of court, arguing that laws regulating the press had not been applied properly.

Daou said he was "deeply moved", adding: "I thank all the press for their support. I thank my lawyers. This is a victory for freedom of the press in Mali."

"I am proud of the Malian justice system, which resisted the pressure and applied the law. The file is closed and Daou is definitely free," his lawyer added.

Sanogo was installed in February as head of a military reform committee, a post created for him as an incentive to accept a transitional government tasked with steering the west African country to elections.

He had led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure in March last year, upending what had been considered one of the region's most stable democracies.

The coup precipitated the fall of northern Mali to Islamist militants linked to Al-Qaeda but a military intervention by French and African troops chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

However, fighting continues in desert areas of northeastern Mali where armed Islamists are entrenched.

South Africa's death toll in last month's rebel coup in the Central African Republic has risen to 14 after the death of a wounded soldier, the army said Tuesday.

"One of the South African National Defence Force members who was injured in Central African Republic, during what has become to be known as the battle of Bangui, has since passed on," said spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga.

Thirteen South African troops died and 27 were wounded when they came under fire from thousands of rebel fighters moving on the capital which fell on March 24.

It was the country's heaviest military loss since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The soldier who died was discharged on April 19 from a Pretoria military hospital, where the injured troops were treated after being evacuated from Bangui.

He was due for a check-up on Friday, but collapsed on Monday and was rushed to hospital where he died, said Mabanga.

South Africa's government has faced an outcry over why soldiers were sent to Central Africa, amid accusations of dodgy deals and ruling party business interests in the troubled nation.

Any wrongdoing has been strongly denied.


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