Mali ex-jihadist liable for Timbuktu destruction, ICC says
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Mali ex-jihadist liable for Timbuktu destruction, ICC says

Court says Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi caused $3 million in damage to fabled shrines

In this Friday, April 4, 2014 file photo, Mohamed Maouloud Ould Mohamed, a mausoleum caretaker, prays at a damaged tomb in Timbuktu, Mali. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed, File)
In this Friday, April 4, 2014 file photo, Mohamed Maouloud Ould Mohamed, a mausoleum caretaker, prays at a damaged tomb in Timbuktu, Mali. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed, File)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A war crimes court Thursday said a Malian ex-jihadist caused 2.7 million euros in damages when he destroyed Timbuktu’s fabled shrines in 2012.

The International Criminal Court ordered victims be paid “individual, collective and symbolic” reparations, ICC judge Raul Pangalangan said.

But the judges at the Hague-based tribunal recognized that Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was penniless, saying it was up to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) — set up to implement the judge’s decisions — to decide how the outstanding amount will have to be paid.

The judges further ordered that the Malian state as well as the international community be compensated with a symbolic amount of one euro for the damages suffered.

This image grab photo shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu, July 01, 2012. (AFP)
This image grab photo shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu, July 01, 2012. (AFP)

Judges gave the TFV until February 16 next year to come up with a plan on how to implement Thursday’s reparations award.

Jihadists used pickaxes and bulldozers against nine mausoleums and the centuries-old door of the Sidi Yahya mosque, built during a golden age of Islam, after a jihadist takeover in northern Mali in 2012.

Al-Mahdi was jailed for nine years in 2016 after he pleaded guilty to directing attacks on the UNESCO world heritage site and apologized to the Timbuktu community.

Timbuktu, founded by Tuareg tribes between the fifth and 12th centuries, has been nicknamed “the city of 333 saints,” referring to the number of Muslim sages buried there.

The ICC’s decision to jail Mahdi in September’s landmark verdict was the first arising out of the conflict in Mali, and the first time a jihadist had sat in the dock.

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