Amadou Sanogo, who led a March 2012 coup in Mali, has left the army barracks where he lived to move into a new residence in the capital, defence officials said Monday.

"It was necessary for the country's peace of mind that he leave Kati," a garrison town north of the capital Bamako where his headquarters were located, a defence ministry official said.

"He is not going back up there any time soon, we will not let that happen," the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Sanogo, who leapt from the rank of captain to general in August after a presidential election, left Kati late Sunday. He was in a six-vehicle convoy and wearing civilian clothes.

The Malian army immediately took control of the headquarters Sanogo had been using and of his military equipment.

Earlier this month, other ex-junta members also seeking promotions had mutinied in Kati, forcing the army to intervene.

Around 20 officers, including Sanogo's former deputy, were subsequently arrested. Mali's new president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, had then vowed that Bamako was "no longer going to live in fear of Kati."

Sanogo led a group of fellow mid-level officers to overthrow then-president Amadou Toumani Toure on March 22 last year, upending what had been considered one of west Africa's flagship democracies.

The coup precipitated the fall of northern Mali to militants linked to Al-Qaeda, but an intervention by French and African troops in January chased the rebels from the region's main cities.

The coup also deepened a schism in Mali's military between the Red Berets, loyal to Toure, and the Green Berets, who were broadly pro-junta. Sanogo was implicated in the disappearances of Red Berets after a failed counter-coup in April last year.

Human Rights Watch described his promotion as a "shameful act" and argued the former captain should have been investigated for alleged involvement in torture.

The bodies of three missing soldiers were discovered in and around Kati last week, relatives told AFP Monday.

In May last year, Sanogo and his former junta were granted a general amnesty and the captain received the status of former head of state, with all the accompanying benefits.

A month later this status was withdrawn, but Sanogo was appointed as head of a committee on army reform, a post created for him as an incentive to accept a transitional government.

Earlier this month the new president dissolved the army reform committee.