Tags: ahmad al-faqi al-mahdi | sentenced | shrines | timbuktu

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi Sentenced to Prison for Destroying Shrines

Image: Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi Sentenced to Prison for Destroying Shrines

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi appears at the international criminal court in The Hague, Netherlands on Aug. 22 at the start of his trial on charges of involvement in the destruction of historic mausoleums in Timbuktu during Mali's 2012 conflict. (Patrick Post/Pool/Reuters)

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Sep 2016 12:02 PM

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years in prison by the international criminal court based in The Hague for helping destroy shrines in Timbuktu four years ago.

The Islamic militant, described by The Guardian as a one-time junior civil servant, entered a guilty plea last month to a charge of "intentionally directing" attacks on nine of Timbuktu's mausoleums and the centuries-old door of its Sidi Yahia mosque in 2012, when the Malian city was occupied by a number of militant groups.

One of the damaged mausoleums was the 16th Century mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud, the rector of Timbuktu's world-famous Sankore University, BBC News reported. The 15th Century mosque of Sidi Yahia honored a man who was described as the patron saint of the town.

The trial was the international court's first to solely focus on cultural destruction of historic institutions as a war crime. It was also the first time the court prosecuted an Islamic militant.

The Islamic State has received condemnation for its destruction of ancient monuments in the Syrian city of Palmyra and other sites in Iraq, which was discussed by the court's chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, The Guardian noted.

Bensouda also compared the Timbuktu attacks with the Taliban's wrecking of the Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan in 2001.

The destroyed Timbuktu sites were dedicated to religious and historical monuments, CNN reported.

"(They) were an integral part of the religious life of its inhabitants and constitute a common heritage for the community," the court said, according to CNN. "Their destruction does not only affect the direct victims of the crimes but also people through Mali and the international community."

Mahdi told the court last month that he will spend his years in prison purging the "evil spirit" that overtook him, CNN reported.

"This verdict is a clear recognition that attacks on religious and historical monuments can destroy the culture and identity of a population and constitute crimes under international law," Erica Bussey, Amnesty International's senior legal adviser, told CNN.

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Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years in prison by the international criminal court based in The Hague for helping destroy shrines in Timbuktu four years ago.
ahmad al-faqi al-mahdi, sentenced, shrines, timbuktu
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2016-02-27
Tuesday, 27 Sep 2016 12:02 PM
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