Malian Jihadist pleads guilty to destroying Timbuktu shrines at start of ICC trial News
Malian Jihadist pleads guilty to destroying Timbuktu shrines at start of ICC trial

The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] opened the trial of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi [case information, PDF] Monday for the destruction of historical and religious monuments in Timbuktu. Al Mahdi admitted guilt [press release] Monday, apologizing for his actions. ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gave an opening statement [text], calling the trial “historic.” After the prosecution concludes its presentation, the victims’ legal representative and then the defense will have the opportunity to be heard. Judges will then deliberate on Al Mahdi’s guilt and possible sentence.

The danger to world heritage sites and other important landmarks in Mali is not the only concern among the international community regarding the country. Mali has been facing a humanitarian crisis since 2012 that has raised graver international concerns. In May 2012 Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report saying that Mali was facing its worst human rights crisis [JURIST report] since it gained independence in 1960. Human Rights Watch released a similar report in April 2012 claiming that all sides to the conflict are committing war crimes [JURIST report]. Earlier in April the ICC said they would monitor the situation [JURIST report] in Mali for potential crimes under the ICC’s jurisdiction. The turmoil began when Taureg rebels attacked Malian soldiers [Al Jazeera report]. Many in the international community expressed concern [JURIST report] over the situation, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official website], then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [official website]. All of this came after Malian soldiers took control of the government [JURIST report] and suspended the constitution in March 2012.