ICC slaps war crimes charges on militant who terrorised Timbuktu

October 01, 2019

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This April 4, 2018, file photo shows Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud (centre) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.—AP
This April 4, 2018, file photo shows Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud (centre) at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.—AP

THE HAGUE: The International Criminal Court on Monday confirmed war crimes and crimes against humanity charges against a Malian militant accused of demolishing Timbuktu’s fabled shrines and unleashing a reign of terror.

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud, 40, was accused of these crimes as well as being responsible for rapes and sexual slavery after fundamentalists exploited a Tuareg uprising in 2012 to take over cities in Mali’s volatile north.

Al Hassan is the second Islamist extremist to face trial at the ICC for the destruction of the Timbuktu shrines, following a 2016 landmark ruling at the world’s only permanent war crimes court. The first one got a nine-year prison term.

The ICC said there were “substantial grounds” to convict him for “crimes against humanity... torture, rape, sexual slavery, other inhumane acts, including, inter alia, forced marriages, persecution and war crimes.” “Al Hassan played an essential and undeniable role in the system of persecution established by the armed groups... in Timbuktu,” ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had said earlier.

“Make no mistake, Al Hassan was... a key figure within the armed groups and the system put in place to control the city,” she said, describing him as de-facto chief of the Islamic police in the city.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019