Malian jihadist war crimes law opens before ICC

An alleged Malian jihadist, who was charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the occupation of Timbuktu in 2012, is on trial from Tuesday before the ICC.

Trial of Malian jihadist charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, rape and sexual slavery committed in connection with forced marriage and destruction of a mausoleum in Timbuktu opens on Tuesday, July 14, before the International Criminal Court (ICC)).

Age 42, Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, his full name, is accused of having contributed in 2012 and 2013 to the demolition of heritage in this city in northwestern Mali, but also of torture. It was handed over in April 2018 by the Malian authorities to the ICC, based in The Hague, the Netherlands.

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The accusations

His trial begins on Tuesday by opening statements by the prosecutor, who had claimed in previous hearings that Al Hassan had played a crucial role in the “trial” that Timbuktu residents suffered during the jihadist world.

The defense and the victims’ legal representatives will make their statements at a later time, when the evidence has been presented to the judges, the ICC said.

In a historic ruling in 2016, the court sentenced a first Malian jihadist, Ahmad AlFaqiAl Mahdi, to nine years in prison for participating in the 2012 demolition of a protected mausoleum in Timbuktu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This time, due to the new coronavirus pandemic, some participants will participate in the remote version. The court could not indicate whether the accused will be present in the courtroom.

The accused is said to have been a member of Ansar Dine, one of the jihadist armed groups that took control of the remote region of northern Mali in March-April 2012, and a commissioner for the Islamic Police in Timbuktu.

“A calvary introduced by a tyrannical regime”

These groups “imposed their vision of religion, of terror, a local people who did not hold on to it,” according to the arrest warrant.

A wave of destruction had swept through Timbuktu, founded between Ve and XIIecenturies of the Tuareg tribes and the nickname “the city of saints” for the number of Muslim poets buried there.

According to the ICC, Al Hassan had about 40 Islamic police under his control. All violations of their strict reading of Islamic laws were punished with flogging and torture, according to the court.

Residents have undergone a “trial instituted by a tyrannical regime”, said the court’s lawyer FatouBensouda last year, noting that the accused himself participated in some of the punishments.

With AFP