Having pleaded guilty and apologised for leading destruction of 10 Malian cultural and religious sites, Ahmad al-Mahdi has been handed 9 years jail by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Haque. The judges found al-Ahmadi had shown "remorse and empathy" for his crime.
|Ahmad al-Mahdi during his trial at The Hague.|
“I seek their forgiveness and I ask them to look at me as a son who has lost his way,” al-Mahdi pleaded with the court during trial in August. “Those who forgive me will be rewarded by the almighty. I would like to make them a solemn promise that this was the first and the last wrongful act I will ever commit.”
Regarded as an Islamist with link to dreaded-Al-Qaeda, al-Mahdi also quoted Quranic advice in his plea. “We need to speak justice even to ourselves. We have to be truthful, even if it burns our own hands,” he said. “All the charges brought against me are accurate and correct. I am really sorry, and I regret all the damage that my actions have caused.”
The ICC had then pronounced him guilty and assured that the sentence will be confirmed on September 27, 2016 (today).From June 30 to July 10, 2012 in Timbuktu, al-Mahdi allegedly led a group of militants and destroyed Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Omar Mohamed Aquit, Mausoleum of Sheikh Mohamed Mahmoud al-Arawani, Mausoleum of Sheikh Sidi Mokhtar Ben Sidi Muhammad Ben Sheikh Alkabir, Mausoleum of Alpha Moya, Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar, Mausoleum of Sheikh Muhammad El Micky, mausoleum of Cheick Abdoul Kassim Attouaty, Mausoleum of Ahamed Fulane, Mausoleum of Bahaber Babadié and Sidi Yahya Mosque, all in Timbuktu. One of the monuments is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
On January 16, 2013, the ICC opened a formal investigation in Mali over alleged crimes that occurred since January 2012 within the context of armed conflict in the north of the country.
On September 18, 2015, the court issued an arrest warrant, alleging that al-Mahdi committed the war crime against heritage monuments.
“We’re in charge of fighting superstitions, and that’s why we have decided to pull down this door,” Mahdi said in a 2012 video shown to the court. “We must eliminate from the landscape everything that doesn’t belong,” he said in another.
Contrary to justifying his action in the video evidence out against him, al-Mahdi however regretted the destruction as he told the court he was under the pushed by “evil wave.” He added: “I hope the years I will spend in prison will enable me to purge the evil spirits that overtook me.”