Jihadist's ICC trial for Timbuktu attacks to open in Aug

1st June 2016, Comments 0 comments

A Malian jihadist will go on trial in August, set to admit to an attack on the World Heritage site of Timbuktu which triggered a global outcry, the International Criminal Court said Wednesday.

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi's trial starting August 22 is likely to last a few days and the tribunal hopes "to complete the trial in a single week," The Hague-base court said in a statement.

Mahdi has made clear "his wish to plead guilty" to a single charge of jointly ordering or carrying out in 2012 the destruction of nine mausoleums and a section of Timbuktu's famous Sidi Yahia mosque which dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries, the ICC added.

It will be the first time that an accused has pleaded guilty before the ICC, which was set up in 2002 to try the world's worst crimes.

It is also the first case before the tribunal to arise out of recent conflict in Mali and to involve an Islamic jihadist.

Mahdi, who is aged around 40, said he was "a Muslim who believes in justice," his defence lawyer Mohamed Aouini told a hearing last week.

"He wants to be truthful to himself and he wants to admit the acts that he has committed. And he wants to ask at the same time for pardon from the people of Timbuktu and the Malian people," Aouini said.

"He regrets all the actions that he has committed."

ICC prosecutors say Mahdi was a leader of Ansar Dine, a mainly Tuareg group that controlled areas of Mali's northern desert together with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and a third local group in early 2012.

© 2016 AFP

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