The Hague Sentences Malian Extremist to 9 Years for Destruction of Timbuktu’s Cultural Sites in Historic Case

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi plead guilty last month to aiding the destruction of Timbuktu’s historic mausoleums and mosques deemed UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2012.

The Hague handed down its sentence to the Malian extremist charged for ordering his followers to destroy Timbuktu’s historic mausoleums and mosques using pickaxes and crowbars in 2012, BBC reports.

The International Criminal Court sentenced Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, an alleged member of Ansar Dine with ties to al-Qaeda and the leader of the morality police operating in Timbuktu during rebel occupation, to nine years in prison in the historic case. It’s the first time someone has been charged and sentenced by the tribunal for the destruction of cultural monuments, particularly African monuments. Typically the court prosecutes cases pertaining to human rights abuse and genocide. And it’s a first for a suspected Islamic extremist to stand trial at the ICC.

Al-Mahdi originally faced up to 30 years, but his attorneys were able to strike an agreement with prosecutors to whittle down the prison term. Judges found he had demonstrated significant "remorse and empathy" for the crime.

Last month, Al-Mahdi admitted to the charges, claiming he had been swept up in "an evil wave."

He plead guilty saying,

I am really sorry, I am really remorseful, and I regret all the damage that my actions have caused. I would like to give a piece of advice to all Muslims in the world, not to get involved in the same acts I got involved in, because they are not going to lead to any good for humanity.