A well-known Malian lawyer spent three days in the hands of the intelligence services before being released on Monday in a case that feeds speculation about the existence or not of communication channels between Bamako and jihadists.
According to a video circulating on social networks and authenticated by his family, Me Hassan Barry, former minister close to the Fulani community, met in June the radical Fulani preacher Amadou Koufa, head of the « katiba of Macina », which has been rife since 2015 in the center of Mali.
« We are aware of this affair, which has had the blessing of some official circles, » said a security source in Mali to AFP on Monday.
But his arrest on Friday « has no connection with the good offices missions he claims to have previously undertaken, » the government said in a statement.
Officially, Bamako, whose army continues to suffer heavy losses on the ground, excludes dialogue with the jihadists.
« This is not the position of the government, » repeated in July to AFP the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tiébilé Dramé. But experts and personalities argue for a dialogue with the jihadists before what they see as the failure of other strategies.
The arrest of Me Barry by the intelligence services is linked to the weekend, two alleged members of the jihadist group Ansarul Islam, active in Mali and neighboring Burkina Faso, according to the authorities.
Me Barry bribed?
« Me Hassan Barry was arrested for complicity with the terrorists, » said a source close to the case.
The two suspected jihadists were in Bamako to « identify for possible attacks, » state security said Friday.
But they also wanted to « negotiate the release of several executives of their organization held at the Bamako Prison, including two experts in explosives, » the source said.
During their interrogation, they claimed to have handed a large sum of money to Hassan Barry to bribe magistrates and obtain these releases, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Hassan Barry was released Monday and returned to his home, told AFP the president of the Bar Association of Mali, Alhassane Sangare.
Another lawyer, who did not wish to be appointed, said that his arrest by the intelligence services had not respected the legal provisions regarding lawyers.
A judicial source, confirming his release, explained that the legal proceedings against Me Barry « continue ».