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Accusations of Sexual Abuse Continue to Roil Basketball in Mali

Accusations of Sexual Abuse Continue to Roil Basketball in Mali

In April, Maiga was appointed president of FIBA’s council for children’s basketball, or mini-basketball, in Africa. His sister Hamchetou Maiga-Ba played at Old Dominion, was a first-round draft in the W.N.B.A. in 2002, was Mali’s top player at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and now sits on FIBA’s players’ commission. His brother Youssouf Maiga is a FIBA referee in Africa.

A division of Mali’s basketball federation said in a letter that it would support Harouna Maiga and investigate “the morality” of witnesses, who were said to be “hiding in the shadows.”

Amadou Diarra Yalcouye, the secretary general of Mali’s youth and sports ministry, took a more conciliatory position. In a statement on Tuesday, Yalcouye said that the government would “stand with all victims until the full truth comes out” and would “make every effort” to ensure that children can play sports in a safe environment.

But FIBA waited six weeks after its investigation began to suspend Harouna Maiga; in the meantime, basketball federation officials to tried to intimidate witnesses, Worden said. A children’s rights group contracted by FIBA has been unable to provide legal assistance, trauma counseling and security to victims, Worden said, in a country where laws protecting women are weak.

On Monday, the father of one of the teenagers who accused Bamba of abuse said he was summoned to a hearing by the police, but his lawyer wasn’t permitted into the courtroom. The man’s daughter, in a training camp for the U-19 World Cup, was not informed of the hearing, he said. The father said he suspected that an attempt was being made at a cover-up and was relieved that Bamba was indicted.

On July 1, Worden wrote an urgent email to FIBA, viewed by The Times, saying Bamba’s accusers had been called into Mali’s basketball federation to be questioned, apparently without legal counsel and without being told they could refuse to speak.

In the email, Worden wrote that Human Rights Watch was concerned that a faction of the Mali federation aligned with Niang and Harouna Maiga was “gathering force to fight back and punish the girls and families who spoke out.” FIBA did not respond, Worden said.

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