The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague has unanimously sentenced Malian rebel, Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, to nine years in jail for destroying the fabled shrines of Timbuktu, in a landmark ruling experts hope will help safeguard the world’s vulnerable monuments.
Al Mahdi is was found guilty of war crimes relating to the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu in 2012. He is the first person to be jailed on war crimes against property. All others have been jailed with crimes against humanity.
The court however noted that the duration from when the warrant of arrest was issued till date will be deducted from the 9 years. Al Mahdi got the least sentence as per the prosecution’s request for between 9 – 11 years for the crime.
“In accordance with the appeals chamber’s jurisprudence, the time you have spent in detention in accordance with an order of this court, namely since your arrest pursuant to the warrant issued on 18th September 2015, shall be deducted from your sentence,” the judge delivering the verdict added.
The ICC ruling said Al Mahdi was culpable for the attacks as a result of his personal and full involvement in most of them. The ruling stated that he had as head of Ansar Dine’s religious police wing, the Al Hisbah, he was present at every ancient mosque or mausoleum that was destroyed.’
This is the first international trial focusing on the destruction of historical and religious monuments, and the first ICC case where the defendant made an admission of guilt. Subsequently, the prosecution presented its evidence and called three witnesses.