The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) pre-trial chamber will on Tuesday hold a confirmation of charges hearing for the suspected Malian jihadist Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi.
During the hearing, the prosecution will determine whether there is sufficient evidence that Al Faqi committed the war crimes for which he has been charged.
According to an ICC arrest warrant issued on September 18 2015, Al Faqi allegedly committed war crimes between June and July 2012 through direct attacks on buildings dedicated to religion and historical monuments.
The destruction of religious objects, cultural or historical, as well as heritage, is another way to destroy a civilization, a religion, the kind of things on which a society is based
Timbuktu has for decades been a great intellectual centre of Islam and the destruction of fourteen mausoleums of Muslim saints by Malian jihadist group Ansar Dine in the name of fighting “idolatry” has caused worldwide indignation.
“The destruction of religious objects, cultural or historical, as well as heritage, is another way to destroy a civilization, a religion, the kind of things on which a society is based,” Stephen Rapp, former American diplomat specialised in war crimes said.
In 2013 the ICC opened investigations into atrocities committed by groups linked to Al Oaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in Mali.
Some NGOs fear that justice will never be rendered for many of the victims of the crimes committed in 2012 and 2013 in Mali and have called on the ICC to broaden the charges against Al Faqi to include rape and forced marriages.
The jihadists took control of the North of Mali between March and April 2012 after the army was dominated by a Tuareg rebellion.
The jihadists were gradually pushed back after French military intervention. They however control some zones in the country.