Mali Islamist jailed for nine years for Timbuktu shrine attacks

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi during his trial at the ICCImage copyright

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Mahdi said he regretted his actions and asked for forgiveness

The International Criminal Court has sentenced an Islamist militant who destroyed ancient shrines in Timbuktu to nine years in jail.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi admitted to leading rebel forces who destroyed historic mausoleums at the world heritage site in Mali in 2012.

Judges at the court in The Hague found he had shown “remorse and empathy” for the crime.

It is the first sentence based on cultural destruction as a war crime.

It is also the first time the court has tried a jihadist.

Al-Mahdi – described as a “religious scholar” in court documents – led rebels who used pickaxes and crowbars to destroy nine of Timbuktu’s mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the city’s Sidi Yahia mosque.

The court found he not only offered “logistical and morale support” for the attacks, but also took part in the physical destruction of at least five out of the 10 buildings.

However, al-Madhi had at first advised rebel leaders not to attack the shrines.

Admitting to the charges last month, al-Mahdi claimed he had been swept up in “an evil wave”.

Mali Islamist jailed for nine years for Timbuktu shrine attacks

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