June 22, 2015 / 10:50 PM / 3 years ago

U.N. police accused of Mali deaths to face home country court: source

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Several U.N. police peacekeepers who used “unauthorized and excessive force” that killed three people during a protest in Mali have been arrested and will face justice in their home country, a diplomatic source at the United Nations said on Monday.

A United Nations inquiry found police peacekeepers shot the protesters during a demonstration on Jan. 27 in the northern Mali town of Gao as the U.N. tried to broker peace between armed groups in the area. Four people were injured.

The United Nations has not identified the nationality of the policemen, but sources told Reuters a video of the incident shows they were Rwandan.

“Those who were responsible are now back in their home country and they will be judged in their home country,” said the diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They have been arrested and they will go before the court.”

The Rwandan U.N. mission was not immediately available for comment on whether any arrests had been made.

The diplomatic source also said the United Nations would compensate the families of the protesters who were killed.

Diplomats and officials describe Rwandan troops as among the best trained and most skilled peacekeepers. Punishment for crimes committed by U.N. peacekeepers is left to the country they come from.

U.N. peacekeepers have deployed across northern Mali to try to stabilize the vast region, which was occupied by separatist Tuareg rebels and al Qaeda-linked Islamists in 2012 before a French intervention in 2013.

An alliance of Tuareg-led rebels and the Malian government signed a peace deal on Saturday, which will allow the authorities to focus on tackling Islamist militants in the desert north.

The behavior of peacekeepers is under scrutiny amid allegations of sexual abuse by soldiers from France, Chad and Equatorial Guinea in Central African Republic in 2014 before the official creation of a U.N. mission there.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols. Editing by Andre Grenon

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