Mali : polemicist Ras Bath acquitted

Youssouf Mohamed Bathily alias "Ras Bath"

Sentenced in late July for “incitement to troops disobedience”, the polemicist Mohamed Youssouf Bathily alias Ras Bath, has just been acquitted. A final cut for a soap opera that aroused many passions in the national public opinion where his “fans” were denouncing an attempt at muzzling.

Final cut for the trial of the polemicist Mohamed Youssouf Bathily alias Ras Bath. The Court of Appeal of Bamako decided, on Monday, November 27, to acquit the polemicist who had been sentenced by the court of commune IV to one year in prison and a fine of 100,000 francs, at the end of July, for “incitement to troops disobedience”. The prosecutor did not issue an arrest warrant, as his lawyers appealed. “It was anything but the law. It is a political condemnation. The people understood that it was not a judgment rendered by justice, but a service rendered for the benefit of someone”, the chronicler reacted.

This Monday morning, a thousand fans of the radio chronicler mobilized to support him and ask for his release. Among the protesters were politicians such as the Member of Parliament, Oumar Mariko, and leader of the African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence (SADI) party, Mahamadou Hawa Gassama, Member of Parliament of Yelimane, and Nouhoum Togo, chief communication advisor of the opposition leader.

At the start of the trial, says a source close to the Court, the public prosecutor decided to abandon the charges. “He was simply acquitted”, said Siriki Zana Koné, one of the lawyers of this tribune who has become a phenomenon in the microcosm of Malian civil society. “The court cancelled the trial, because the case was empty. There was no concrete evidence”, adds Koné.

On August 15, 2016, he was arrested on the order of Bamako Court of Appeal Attorney Mamadou Lamine Coulibaly for “insulting the depositaries of public authority”, while he had arranged to meet his listeners, that same day, to make revelations on Tiéman Hubert Coulibaly, at the time Minister of Defense. His appearance gave rise to scenes of urban guerrilla warfare. Clashes between police and demonstrators demanding his release resulted in one death and several injuries.

Since then, the attorneys and relatives of the chronicler have constantly denounced an attempt at muzzling. So it is with no surprise for the latter that this verdict comes and hence, ends a legal soap opera, which, in the opinion of many in the national public opinion, might end in discredit for Malian justice.