Al-Mahdi pleads guilty and apologizes for destruction in Mali’s Timbuktu
The International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Ahmad al-Mahdi for attacks on religious and historical structures during the 2012 occupation of Timbuktu opened today in The Hague. Al-Mahdi, a suspected Islamist, pleaded guilty to all charges and apologized for his alleged acts in the UNESCO World Heritage site – which judges underlined they still had to decide upon.
The groundbreaking trial marks a series of firsts for the ICC and has been broadly welcomed throughout the international community as a much needed step towards protecting humanity`s cultural heritage in times of conflict.
Some civil society groups however have called on the ICC prosecutor to also ensure accountability for cases of murder, rape and torture arising from the 2012 Timbuktu occupation.
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor will present the remainder of its case throughout the week-long trial. Judges will render a judgment at a later date. Both the prosecution and defense have agreed not to appeal any sentence ranging from nine to 11 years. A conviction would trigger victims’ reparations proceedings in the case.
Read reactions and media coverage along with rest of the week`s global justice news here.
Photo on front page: An archive image from July 2012 shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu. Source: AFP. Photo on this page: Ahmad al-Mahdi at the international criminal court pleads guilty to the destruction of religious and historical structures in Timbuktu, Mali. Source: The Guardian.