Two men were saved from execution for being gay, after French, and other international forces intervened in Mali to end Islamist Rule.

France and Mali’s armies, as well as those of other African nations, intervened in order to end a ten-month rebellion by Tuareg tribes. The forces drove Islamist Jihadists from the city of Gao, south eastern Mali.

Speaking to Reuters, one of the men saved from execution, Badou Ahmed, said he faced an unfair trial after being imprisoned for being gay.

He said: “During the trial, there were no defense witnesses, it was controlled. They told us they were going to cut our throats for being homosexual, even though another man said that without witness testimony, we should not be.”

The rebels had taken over the majority of northern Mali, and had been enforcing Sharia law, including ruling that gay people should be executed.

A second man saved when French forces intervened, Alitiin Ag Oussman, said he had been already awaiting execution.

He said: “I was in prison and I was waiting to be executed the next day when I heard bombing throughout the night. In the morning a crowd arrived, breaking my cell door to get me out, they told me they that I was free, the city is liberated from Islamists.”

3,500 ground troops were deployed by France in a campaign launched in January to clear Mali of the Islamist rule.

Despite homosexuality being legal in Mali, recent opinion polls suggested that almost all citizens thought it was wrong.