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Published: Friday March 28, 2014 MYT 6:20:02 AM
Updated: Friday March 28, 2014 MYT 6:49:33 AM

Mali swears in court to hear treason case against ex-president

BAMAKO (Reuters) - Mali swore in a new high court on Thursday that will be charged with hearing a case of high treason against former President Amadou Toumani Toure, who was toppled in a coup in 2012, state radio and a member of parliament said.

The government brought the case before the National Assembly in December, accusing Toure of failing in his duty as commander of Mali's armed forces to prevent foreign forces from seizing national territory.

Toure was overthrown in a March 2012 coup prompted by his failure to quell a Tuareg separatist uprising in the north. The takeover, however, allowed armed Islamist groups to seize control of the northern two-thirds of the country.

He will be tried before a new High Court of Justice, whose members were chosen by parliament.

"It has 18 members, including nine tenured judges and nine deputies. They were sworn in at the National Assembly this morning," parliament member Mamadou Diarrassouba told Reuters.

Toure, who won power in a 2002 presidential election and was re-elected five years later, is also accused of destroying military equipment and promoting army personnel to positions for which they were unqualified.

The coup, which was partly triggered by anger at government corruption and failure to equip the armed forces, occurred weeks before Toure was due to step down.

He currently resides in Dakar, the capital of neighbouring Senegal.

The occupation of northern Mali by al Qaeda-linked groups ended in January 2013 when France sent more than 4,000 troops to halt a southern advance by the militants.

Mali's new President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected in August by a landslide.

(Reporting by Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier)

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