Man involved in destruction of Timbuktu monuments pleads guilty in ICC first
A man has pleaded guilty at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for the 2012 destruction of religious monuments in Mali, marking the first time ever a defendant accused of war crimes has entered a guilty plea.
Islamist Ahmad al-Mahdi pleaded guilty, telling judges he did so with deep regret and great pain” and called on fellow Muslims to avoid such acts, saying “they are not going to lead to any good for humanity”.
Mr Mahdi destroyed 14 of the 16 mausoleums in the ancient city of Timbuktu, regarding them as idolatrous. The structures were UNESCO world heritage sites.
This is the first case at the ICC in which destruction of cultural artefacts has been treated as a war crime.
The defendant was accused of joining jihadis who took over the city, enforced sharia law and banned girls from attending school.
Niger handed him over to the ICC after it issued an arrest warrant.
Mr Mahdi faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison but prosecutors have said they will seek nine to 11 years’ imprisonment.
He told the judicial panel he hopes his time in jail “will be a source of purging the evil spirits that had overtaken me”.